Georgia Barn Operator Charged With Animal Cruelty

The operator of a boarding barn near Ludowici, Ga., is facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly neglecting horses in his care.

Long County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mark Hall said that on June 4 he and other Sheriff's Department personnel discovered three allegedly dehydrated and malnourished horses at the barn after receiving a complaint about conditions there.

"One mare was so dehydrated she received five shots of electrolytes," Hall said. "They saved her life."

Several other horses were found in various conditions, Hall said.

Authorities notified the horses' owners to relocate their animals. All the horses were provided with feed and water before law enforcement personnel left the scene.

On Monday, barn operator Jason Ashley was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Trainer Curtis Austell was charged with being party to a crime. More charges could be pending, Hall said.

Neither Ashley nor Austell was available for comment. Both men are slated to appear in court on July 20.

Georgia's Animal Protection Act requires barn operators who charge a fee for boarding, training, breeding, riding, or other similar purposes to be licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Under the Act, operators of licensed facilities must provide adequate food, water, shelter, and care for all equines boarded at the facility.

Hall said the facility owned by Ashley was not licensed.

"It's a reminder that people shouldn't be naive," Hall said. "Before they board a horse, they should make sure they see a license."

Attorney Milt Toby also advises horse owners in Georgia and elsewhere to do their homework before placing their animals at a boarding facility. Owners should talk with current and former clients about care levels the facility provided for their horses, Toby said. Owners can further verify a facility's reputation by talking with animal welfare groups and veterinarians in the area, he said.

"Owners should also have a written contract with the boarding facility operator that spells out the level of care their horses are to receive," said Toby.

In turn, owners should pay board bills on time or even in advance, if possible, and negotiate a payment schedule when payments might be late or in arrears, Toby said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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