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Cows seized from Washington County farmer find new home

June 24, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A herd of cows seized by the Humane Society of Washington County late last year has a new home.

A pasture owner outside Washington County has paid $10,000 for the cows, which were taken from their previous owner, Gregory Charles Wiles, in December 2007.

Wiles pleaded guilty earlier this month in Washington County Circuit Court to animal cruelty charges.

The 26 cows and one bull calf were taken to the new pasture Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society said Monday.

"The Humane Society is pleased that we were able to find a quick resolution. We are very happy we were able to find someone to take the entire herd," Humane Society Executive Director Paul Miller said.

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The animals were seized from Wiles after the Humane Society received complaints about the animals' conditions.

Wiles pleaded guilty to two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty in connection with the death of two cows taken from his pastures.

Wiles, 41, also pleaded guilty to 13 misdemeanor counts of failing to provide for several cows.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Wiles will not serve time in jail but was sentenced to three years of probation, during which he may not own or take care of any livestock.

The location of the cows' new pasture and identity of their new owner are being withheld at the owner's request, Humane Society Spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said.

The $10,000 paid by the animals' new owner will be applied to the $22,000 in restitution Wiles owes the Humane Society, Cooker said in a press release.

On Monday, Cooker said the animals are in good health "compared to the condition they were in six months ago" but still are thin.

After the judge's ruling earlier this month, Miller said he had received information that there were more animals owned by Wiles at other locations but had not been able to find them.

Reached by phone Monday evening, Wiles said he gave seven Holsteins and a horse to his father last week.

Wiles made headlines in 2001 when he had his top U.S.-ranked Holstein, Zita, cloned.

The financial prosperity that resulted from that cloning ended several years later when concerns about milk and meat from cloned animals prompted the government to ask Wiles not to sell food products from his cloned cows.

"I did the best I could with the situation I had," said Wiles when asked about the judge's sentence. "I had animals I couldn't get rid of and couldn't afford."

Wiles said he has worked as a manager at a Hagerstown business for the past 18 months but would not specify the name or type of business. He said he currently is unemployed.

Wiles said he hopes to resume a career in dairy after his three-year probation ends.

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