Probe into possible neglect is finished

December 07, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - As it wrapped up its investigation of possible neglect at a Sharpsburg farm, the Humane Society of Washington County was just beginning to address the long-term medical and nutritional needs of many horses, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The society has assumed responsibility for the care of all of the horses it found at Windrinker Farm, said Katherine Cooker, manager of development and community relations. Twenty-two horses remained at the farm Wednesday, she said.

"They're ours to take care of right now," said Cooker, who called the undertaking an "enormous rescue effort."

While no charges had been filed as of Wednesday afternoon, Cooker said the humane society planned to soon turn over its findings to the Washington County State's Attorney's office.

Seventy-four horses were found on the farm at 4040 Mills Road, which covers about 32 acres, according to tax records. One horse died en route to medical care, the humane society said.


About 25 horses went to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, said Kathleen Schwartz, president of the Lisbon, Md., rehabilitation and adoption facility. The rest of the horses remained in veterinary care, Cooker said.

"Some of (the horses) are thin, some of them are injured. Some of them are pretty infested by parasites," Schwartz said.

During a days-long search of Windrinker Farm, officials found one dead foal, one dead yearling, three carcasses buried in a field and the remains of five other animals, a humane society press release stated.

For the first time since Saturday, when officials arrived to execute a search warrant, the owner of the property was allowed to return, Cooker said.

Efforts to reach Barb Reinken, the property's owner, at her home failed Wednesday. No one returned a message left at the Frederick County, Md., home where she had been staying.

Reinken, 61, said Tuesday that she provided adequate care for her horses, but problems at Windrinker Farm snowballed when she hurt her leg and shoulder at different times. She said she was trying to treat some underweight horses, which might have had worms.

"It's just nobody will help. See, nobody wants to help when you need it," Reinken told The Herald-Mail Tuesday.

In its 17 years, Days End has never cared for so many horses from one place, Schwartz said.

"We're at capacity. This has taxed everybody's capacity," Schwartz said.

Schwartz said she could not guess the prognoses of the animals, but she said the rescue facility has had success rehabilitating other horses.

Neither Schwartz nor Cooker could estimate the cost of the horses' treatment.

"We're just trying to watch them like hawks and make sure they're fine. We don't know what tomorrow's going to bring," Cooker said.

While they recover, Schwartz said the Windrinker Farm horses would be treated inside in a setting she compared to a hospital.

On average, the recuperation period for a horse at Days End is six months to nine months, and the cost of necessities such as medical care, feed and hay can run about $500 a month for first six months, Schwartz said. The humane society will be billed for the expenses, she said.

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