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Many seized horses still await homes

August 23, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Most of the horses seized from a Sharpsburg farm in December have not found permanent homes.

Seventy-five horses were removed during an investigation into neglect.

A few died, but about a dozen pregnant mares gave birth to foals, giving rescuers and animal authorities close to 85 horses to worry about.

People involved in the case said Wednesday they knew of about 27 horses that had been adopted.

Authorities have said the horses were malnourished and injured.

Barbara Perry Reinken, 62, who kept the horses on the farm, pleaded guilty to animal neglect charges in April and was put on supervised probation.

The Humane Society of Washington County investigated the case for several weeks before seizing the horses, Executive Director Paul Miller said.

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In a press conference after Reinken's case was adjudicated, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said the Humane Society "intervened and visited" Reinken's farm since 1996.

Rescue organizations took in many of the horses.

Miller said the case drew international attention.

Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Md., accepted 25 horses, said Brooke Vrany, Days End's director of programs and emergency services. Four horses were adopted.

Pheasant Hill Equine Foundation in Adamstown, Md., took in horses, too. No one from the foundation could be reached Wednesday afternoon.

Thirty-two horses remained in Washington County, Miller said. Of those, 23 were adopted, going to places as far as North Carolina and California.

If not for donations, the rescue effort and follow-up care might have cost about $200,000, Miller said. He figured the cost of boarding a horse, with a barn and stall, at about $300 per month.

People who heard about the horses have donated hay, buckets, halters, leads and more. As a result, the actual cost of the effort was cut to about $112,000, Miller said.

Officials said the horses fared better when they were moved.

In groups, there's a "pecking order" among horses, Miller said. As horses come and go, the hierarchy changes.

Horses that are removed from the farm group and get individual care are "not always looking over their shoulder," so they relax, Miller said.

Vrany said the horses at Days End are getting a lot of training and have come a long way.

As of Wednesday, Days End had a total of 63 horses, including those rescued elsewhere, Vrany said.

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