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Four in Pa. guilty in deaths of horses

March 09, 2001

Four in Pa. guilty in deaths of horses



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


ORRSTOWN, Pa. - Four members of a northern Franklin County family were convicted Friday on animal cruelty charges after three horses, including a 6-month-old foal, died of neglect, according to court records.

Phil and Linda Funston of 1778 Orrstown Road, Shippensburg, Pa., and Chris and Tammy Middlekauf of 14578 Lurgan Road, Orrstown, were each convicted on three counts of animal cruelty for depriving the horses of shelter and veterinarian care, court records state.

The Middlelkaufs are the Funstons' son and daughter-in-law.

District Justice John Weyman fined each defendant $750 on each of the three counts. He said he would drop the fines to $250 on each count if the defendants get rid of four other horses they own within 30 days.

Weyman said he has no authority to force the defendants to get rid of the surviving horses, but cutting their fines should serve as an incentive to do so.

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"I don't think these people are fit to own horses," Weyman said. "The horses had no water. The water froze in the trough and in a pond and these people didn't even break the ice so the animals could drink.

"They were all responsible," Weyman said.

The horses were owned by the Funstons and were being kept, along with the other four, on their property on Lurgan Road that was being rented by the Middlekaufs.

Investigating officer Carol Dague, with the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter Inc., said Tammy Middlekauf told her all four defendants shared the responsibility of caring for the animals.

The dead horses included two adults, a sorrel and a gray, and the foal, a paint.

Dague inspected the farm for the first time Oct. 28. following a complaint from a neighbor.

"I told them to feed them more," Dague said. "The shelter they were kept in seemed all right for the October weather. They said they were building a barn that would be ready in two weeks."

Dague said the next time she saw the horses was Jan. 2.

"I found three of them dead in the yard," she said.

Dague doesn't know the cause of death because there were no autopsies. She said she had no authority to order one and the owners of the animals couldn't afford to have them done.

She believes the horses died from exposure due to lack of shelter.

They were kept in structures that either had only two sides or were too small to hold eight animals, Dague said. She said she checked the temperatures between Dec. 25 and Jan. 2.

"The high was 30 and the low at night was 10 degrees, and it was windy," she said.

The remaining four horses seemed to be in good condition, she said.

"These are not bad people, they just don't know how to care for horses," she said of the defendants.

"It broke my heart to see these dead horses, especially the baby," Dague said. "It had just been born when I was out there in October."

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