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How You Can Help: Emaciated Animals Seized from Orange County Farm

By Susan Larson

Saddlery Liquidators is collecting donations for the rescued horses, dogs and cats found starving at Peaceable Farm on Liberty Mills Road in Somerset, Va.

The Orange County Sheriff’s office served a search warrant at the farm on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. The farm’s owner is Anne Goland, who also goes by Anne Shumate, according to Rate My Horse Pro. As of Thursday, Oct. 22, 81 horses, 28 cats and seven dogs were removed from the farm.

Numerous dead horses and cats were also discovered, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“The property smells like death,” local horse owner Raleigh Minor told Rate My Horse Pro. Minor, who was helping the Sheriff’s Office with the rescue, said she counted seven dead horses. Several more were euthanized due to their poor condition.

Donations Accepted
Donations of money or supplies are being accepted at both Saddlery Liquidators locations — 6612 James Madison Hwy, Haymarket, and 1175 North Main Street, Madison. “The most needed donations right now are horse, cat and dog food, wormers and blankets,” said Partner and Manager Marc Nolan. He will be distributing the supplies to groups selected by the sheriff’s office to care for the animals, including Central Virginia Horse Rescue.

Cargill donated one-ton of Nutrena-Pennfield SafeChoice Senior to help start the process of rehabbing the horses. “I heard about this on Facebook and understood the complexities of what was going on and the importance of addressing it,” said Douglas Leavitt, equine specialist with Cargill Nutrena-Pennfield and Progressive Equine Nutrition.

“The horses are being parted out to people who have successful rehabilitation experience,” he said. “It’s not simple to rehab a horse who has been starving. It’s a process that can take 60 to 90 days before you even actually begin to see any good results.”

“Good nutrition and blanketing I think are two of the greatest resources needed right now. If you want to donate feed, ask what feed is being fed because it’s usually better to continue on a regiment instead of switching feeds.”

Animals Remain on the Farm
All horses that have been surrendered or seized have been taken off the property and are in the hands of rescue organizations, the sheriff’s office said. The property owner is still in possession of 18 horses, two donkeys, one bull and several cats, according to Rate My Horse Pro. This has angered many, who are expressing their concern to authorities.

“While it is frustrating to know that animals remain on the farm, our office is working very closely with the Sheriff to ensure that the law is being followed and that all possible measures are being taken to protect those animals remaining,” said Orange County Commonwealth’s Attorney Diana Wheeler. “Animals continue to be removed from the farm based on medical information provided by veterinarians.”

Criminal Investigation
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into Peaceable Farm and is working with Wheeler’s office to determine the types and number of charges that will result.

“The number of animals involved is very large,” Wheeler said. “Determining the medical status of each and every animal is very time consuming, and several veterinarians have been working tirelessly to do so.”

Previous Complaints
The Orange Sheriff’s Office has previously been called to investigate a number of complaints about skinny and neglected horses at this farm, beginning in September 2014. The sheriff’s office released this statement this week:

“On those occasions, animal control deputies went to the property and looked into the allegations and determined that the animals were not seize able in accordance with Virginia Code 3.2-6569. That code section states that a law enforcement officer or animal control officer may lawfully seize and impound any animal ‘that has been abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or is suffering from an apparent violation of this chapter that has rendered the animal in such a condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life, safety or health.’ In practice this means that a veterinarian has to determine that an animal is almost dead…..anything less is not seize able.”

Sheriff Mark Amos said he is also investigating allegations that his office failed to properly investigate past complaints about Peaceable Farm.

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