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Petition pushes for seizure of horses in Jefferson Co.

April 25, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A national petition containing more than 300 names is pushing for Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober to seize horses from a farm south of Charles Town where deputies earlier found about five dead horses and about 10 malnourished ones.

Berkeley County resident Marilyn Kinyon, one of 332 people who have put their names on the petition, brought attention to the document in an e-mail sent to The Herald-Mail.

The petition raises concerns about horses being kept at the farm and claims laws allow authorities to remove the horses from the property.

The petition is listed at ThePetitionSite.com, a free service to help concerned citizens rally support for issues they are concerned about, according to the Web site. The number of local residents who put their name on the petition is unclear because it does not include addresses.

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Dennis B. Danley, 54, of 44 Colorado Court in Charles Town, was charged March 26 with 10 counts of cruelty to animals and released on a $7,500 bond, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Each of the cruelty to animals charges carries a possible punishment of a fine of $300 to $2,000 and/or jail up to six months, court records said.

A trial date for the case has not been set.

Cpl. Vincent Tiong of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said a person who works at Charles Town Races & Slots told the sheriff's department on Feb. 9 about horses being kept at a farm off Huyett Road.

Tiong said the track worker told him 10 to 15 horses in a field along Blakeley Farm Lane were not being properly fed and did not have water.

It also was discovered that several horses were not properly buried and members of the sheriff's department found about five or six dead horses left along a tree line, Tiong said in court papers and an interview.

Tiong said a doctor from the Valley Equine Association in Ranson, W.Va., met with him at the farm.

All the horses had rib cages and spines showing and a few of the horses were suffering from "rain rot," which is caused by horses being left in the rain, Tiong said.

Horses at the farm are being closely monitored to make sure they are cared for, Boober said Tuesday.

Kinyon said Tuesday she knows two people who met with Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson about the case, and Thompson told the people that Boober had the authority to seize the horses.

But Thompson told the people that he was going to allow Boober to handle the case as he sees fit, Kinyon said.

Kinyon said she has e-mailed Boober regarding the case and reiterated in a telephone interview that she believes the horses need to be removed from the farm.

"I'm really concerned," Kinyon said.

Thompson would not comment about the case Tuesday.

Boober said Tuesday that Kinyon is stating incorrect facts about how he and Thompson are handling the case.

Boober said state law prohibits him from seizing the horses before a trial. State law prohibits police from seizing animals without a "pre-seizure hearing" but nothing in state law spells out how such a hearing should be held, Boober said.

Boober said horses have been seized in other instances, but not in any of his cases. He declined to comment further.

In the meantime, Boober said Thompson has told him to contact the prosecutor's office if Boober believes the horses are being abused.

Then Thompson would petition the courts for removal of the animals.

Boober said the horses are being properly fed and cared for and two veterinarians are examining the animals regularly to make sure the proper care continues.

Also, Boober said he has been told that it would be better for the health of the horses to keep them in their current surroundings as opposed to moving them.

"We're watching very close and hoping we can expedite (the case)," Boober said.

Danley could not be reached for comment.

Bonnie Danley, Danley's wife, previously defended her husband, saying she and her husband were having financial problems and that no one had been cruel to the horses. Bonnie Danley said she and her husband are in the horse racing business but their racing efforts "dried up on us."

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