Concerns of unhealthy horses in Fayette County

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 (Press Release ) – The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports concerning the alleged mistreatment of several horses in the Gatewood Road area near Cunard. Sheriff Steve Kessler released the following information concerning this situation:
     Over the past several weeks the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous reports of several horses at a farm in the Gatewood Road/Cunard area that are being abused and neglected. Several Sheriff’s Deputies as well as our Animal Control Officer have thoroughly investigated these reports.
     There are approximately 30 horses housed in this area. The property owner, who operates a trail-riding facility, maintains two large barns as shelters for these horses. There is ample hay and grain on site to provide for the adequate nutrition of these horses and investigators have verified that these horses are, in fact, receiving this feed on a daily basis. There is also an ample supply of water for these horses. Some of the horses are reportedly somewhat below a desirable weight and may possibly have worms. The property owner has provided proof of worming treatments for these horses. Investigators have examined the horse feces in the pasture enclosure and this feces is consistent with that of healthy animals.
     Several of these horses are older animals, reportedly in excess of thirty years old. One horse, which had become extremely ill, was recently euthanized in a humane manner by the property owner and the carcass was buried. Investigators had recommended to the property owner that some of these horses be checked by a veterinarian but this has not yet been done due to the financial inability of the property owner to pay for these veterinarian services.
     “We have consulted with the Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office about this situation, and there is not sufficient probable cause to support a filing of animal cruelty or neglect charges at this time,” said Sheriff Kessler. “Our Animal Control Officer as well as uniformed Deputy Sheriffs are continuing to monitor this situation on a daily basis. If probable cause arises to justify the filing of criminal charges in connection with the neglect or maltreatment of one or more of these horses then those criminal charges will be filed and appropriate action undertaken to seize the maltreated horses. I understand that several individuals are upset over the perceived neglect of these animals, but we cannot undertake criminal enforcement action if no probable cause exists to do so, nor can we require the property owner to seek Veterinarian care which he is unable to afford. We must
 operate within the laws of the State of West Virginia in all of our actions and adhere to the Constitutions of the United States and the State of West Virginia. I would reiterate that we are aware of this situation and are monitoring it closely, but we cannot and shall not undertake any illegal or unjustified enforcement action absent sufficient probable cause to support a charge of animal cruelty or neglect.”
Authorized for release, 01/08/16
Steve W. Kessler,
Sheriff of Fayette County

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