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How Paul Miller saved the herd

June 15, 2008

To the editor:

I would like to publicly acknowledge Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, for his extraordinary efforts leading up to the animal cruelty case against Gregory Wiles.

As most are aware, in December 2006, the HSWC was thrust into what is believed to be the largest horse rescue ever in the state of Maryland. Five horses lost their lives and the 70 that survived needed to be nursed back to health and placed in safe homes.

While still dealing with this tragedy, in early December 2007, HSWC seized and impounded 15 Holstein heifers from a pasture on College Road in the Hagerstown area and later another 18 Holsteins (along with one dead cow) from a pasture on Neck Road in the Williamsport area. Later, two cows at the College Road location died.

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Upon hearing of the seizure, my husband and I contacted Miller to offer some hay for these animals. Even though Miller warned me that it was tough to look at, when we arrived at their pasture it broke our hearts to see them. Underfed, scrawny, with many missing their tails from lack of nourishment - it was absolutely heartbreaking.

Still, they had a light in their eyes that could only be hope - and it was their great good fortune to have Paul Miller as their "angel" for the weeks he cared for them. Weak as they were, they raced around behind us, grabbing up as much timothy hay as they could. And sweet - what wonderful dispositions. There is a sweetness of gratitude in a rescued animal that defies explanation.

Several weeks ago, I phoned Miller to see how the girls were coming along and was surprised to learn that one of the "girls" was now a "mom" of a beautiful little bull calf. What's more, when we rode out to see her, we could scarcely believe we had the right field! We couldn't believe our eyes - the herd we saw in December as near dead or dying, was now plump, sleek and content - and absolutely beautiful. And that doesn't happen easily or by accident. It happens by feeding and watering, twice a day (at least), every day, rain or shine, no matter what. And I know for a fact, that Paul Miller did it himself.

Washington County, I hope you know what a treasure you have in Paul Miller. It is not often you find such a rare combination of real intelligence, true compassion, and steely determination to see something through, as shown through the commitment to care for the livestock and the resolve to pursue the toughest charges of animal cruelty possible.

By the way, Gregory Charles Wiles pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges in the cattle case - but really, the words on the charging documents tell so little of the story of what these elegant creatures suffered. They can't show the pictures of those poor starving creatures in the cold of the night, which had not been fed in so long that there was virtually no waste found on top of the fallen snow on the fields. Words cannot show the huge sores and missing hair from their faces, eyes, and bodies, or the scraggly stumps where their tails once hung.

Wiles is on probation for three years in the court system. Knowing Paul Miler as I do, well, suffice it to say that he'll be watching.

Congratulations again, Paul. Thank you for not backing down one iota and for going after a conviction. And thank you for what you have done with these heifers. You did an astounding job.

Nancy Moser

Middletown, Md.

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