Deputies, Veterinarians Return to Orange Co. Farm
Teams of deputies and veterinarians returned to Peaceable Farm on Tuesday. Investigators have discovered emaciated and dead animals at the farm.
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Animal rescue groups from around the region are trying to nurse back to health dozens of horses taken from an Orange County farm.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is still adding up the number of animals found dead or surviving under neglected conditions.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant, the first concerns about the conditions at Peaceable Farm came in to the sheriff's office on October 3. Several calls came in over the weekend, leading deputies to get a search warrant for the farm on Monday, Oct. 19.
Investigators discovered more than 100 horses on the farm during that search. Some of the animals are reported to be fine, but others are described as being emaciated and even collapsing. A large number of cats and dogs have also been discovered on the property.
“Some of these animals are in very good shape. Many of them are in bad shape,” said Orange Co. Sheriff Mark Amos.
More than a dozen animal rescue groups, some from as far away as Maryland, lined up trailers Tuesday on the dirt driveway into the farm.
Afton-based nonprofit Hope's Legacy Equine Rescue (HLEP) is one of the groups.
“This is by far the worst that I've personally dealt with,” said HLEP founder Maya Proulx.
Proulx says many of the animals appear to have been neglected for months if not years. HLEP is now caring for two dozen horses and a mini-donkey taken from Peaceable Farm.
“Horse people are very caring folks. They really have strong attachments to their animals. Seeing horses treated like this really hits them hard,” she said.
Veterinarians have been checking conditions of each animal at Peaceable Farm. Smaller animals are being taken to the county’s shelter, while the horses are being driven away to be quarantined and cared for.
“We have been tagging them: those that need immediate care, those that don't need care at all, or some that need some care. We've been tagging them with different colored tags. That's how we keep track of the animals,” Sheriff Amos said.
Proulx's stable will be packed for months. She's asking the community for help with hay, supplies, and donations as these horses slowly recover.
“It's hard to see the situation these horses are in, and it's hard to believe they're going to be able to move on from it. But, horses are incredibly resilient animals,” she said.
Somerset's Peaceable Farm filed paperwork as recently as 2013 to be a nonprofit, "organized and operated exclusively for the prevention of cruelty to animals.”
Sheriff Amos says the owner of the farm is cooperating with the investigation. So far, no charges have been filed in this investigation.