Update: Peaceable Farm Owner Charged with Animal Cruelty
Peaceable Farm owner Anne Goland is charged with 27 counts of animal cruelty. The Orange County commonwealth's attorney says Goland may face more charges as evidence is reviewed.
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An Orange County woman is facing more than two dozen animal cruelty charges after investigators removed 81 horses, mules, and donkeys along with dozens of cats and dogs from her Somerset farm.
Deputies with the Orange Co. Sheriff’s Office arrested 57-year-old Anne Goland, also known as Anne Shumate Williams, Monday morning. She is charged with 27 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney Diana Wheeler says this is just the beginning of a massive investigation at Peaceable Farm.
Wheeler was joined by Sheriff Mark Amos at a press conference Monday afternoon to announce those criminal charges. A crowd of horse owners from around the commonwealth came to listen in, some of whom cheered once they heard Goland had been arrested.
“Hopefully we'll get the support that we need to shut her down here,” said Mad Tack Equine Suppliers owner Samantha Martynowski.
Sheriff Amos says Goland operated Peaceable Farm as both a horse breeder and an animal rescue nonprofit. The sheriff has now asked the IRS to investigate possible fraud.
Deputies and veterinarians searched the farm last week. Goland willingly released 71 horses, mules and donkeys, as well as 28 cats and seven dogs to rescue groups and shelters.
“What I saw was one of the most horrendous sights I've ever seen in 28 years of law enforcement,” Sheriff Amos said.
Investigators later seized another 10 horses in need of immediate care after Goland refused to surrender them. They found six horses and a donkey dead on the farm. Another nine horses have been put down.
Search warrants have also been executed on two storage units in Albemarle County rented by Goland. An affidavit for a search warrant describes a "unique smell emitting from them.”
“This investigation is immensely large in scope,” said the sheriff.
NBC29 has learned Goland was investigated at her farm in Montgomery County, Maryland, starting in January after people called in concerns about the welfare of the horses there.
Animal services in Maryland charged Goland with improper drink for inadequate water on the farm. Police say she removed the horses from the Maryland property shortly after that.
Authorities have been given permission to go on the Orange County property to check the welfare of Goland's remaining animals. She is still in possession of 18 horses, a bull, and several cats.
“Decisions about which animals to remove from the farm were made based on the requirements of Virginia law in conjunction with medical evidence of a veterinarian examining each animal,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler’s explanation outraged members of Virginia's horse community. Martynowski says the community has rallied ever since investigators arrived at Peaceable Farm.
“This is about the horse community, and we've been violated. We've been violated. This is where it stops,” said horse owner Marcia Landau.
“We're all joined by our love of these animals,” said Martynowski.
A trailer full of donated horse supplies is parked in front of Mad Tack Equine Suppliers. More than 100 bales of hay are on the way to help those rescued animals.
“It's been a great response. Everybody's been very willing to help to donate supplies, items,” said the owner.
Martynowski will continue to collect supplies to help the horses recover, but hopes she never has to do this again.
Goland is currently being held without bond at the Central Virginia Regional Jail. She and five members of the board of the Peaceable Farm nonprofit are ordered to court for a separate seizure hearing on November 4 related to the horses taken by the county.
A bond hearing for Goland is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 27, in Orange County General District Court.