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Dead horse, some remains found during investigation

December 04, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SHARPSBURG - One dead horse and the skeletal remains of at least five others were found on a Sharpsburg farm, prompting an investigation into possible animal cruelty and neglect there, officials said Sunday.

The property at 4040 Mills Road has been seized, and the Humane Society of Washington County is helping to care for nearly 75 horses found there.

Most of the animals were ill and malnourished, with visible rib cages and backbones, said Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society.

Miller said no charges have been filed against the owner of Windrinker Farm, and the investigation is ongoing.

A warrant was served Saturday at the 35-acre farm, which is being treated as a crime scene, Miller said. The owner is not being allowed on the property.

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Miller said the owner told officials that there were no problems with the horses and that all were under a veterinarian's care. The horses, which were different breeds and ages, had not been given complete physicals.

Local veterinarians and workers from the Humane Society and Day's End Farm Horse Rescue in Howard County, Md., were evaluating the horses Sunday afternoon.

Ten horses had been taken from the farm in critical condition, Miller said. One that was taken off the property for care collapsed in a trailer and died during transport, he said.

Most of the horses are underweight, have cuts, abrasions and infections, Miller said. Not a lot of feed was found on the farm.

The owner said she has a degree in animal husbandry and that she kept the horses fed and groomed.

Miller disagreed.

"I think that, certainly, there were some needs for these horses that weren't being met," he said.

Miller said that a call about a dead horse visible from the road prompted the search of the property.

The Humane Society received several complaints about the farm in the past three years, including reports of horses getting loose and of dead horses on the property, Miller said.

"It's not a pretty sight," he said. "It's not something I like seeing."

Miller said he was not sure what the purpose of the farm was, but that it had been there for about 15 years.

The youngest horse there was 3 weeks old, and several appeared to be pregnant, Miller said. He said he believed the horses most likely were inbreeding.

Humane Society officials said care would be provided for the animals at the farm, and those that require veterinary attention would be transported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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