Controversy Over Plan for Abused Horses

Newsdate: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 - 08:11 am
Location: CUMBERLAND, West Virginia

The horses remaining on the Spaid Farm on Back Creek Road, which were the subject of an animal cruelty case, will be collected and given the opportunity to be adopted before going to a horse auction April 1, according to David Gee, Hampshire County animal control officer, and the sheriff’s department.

However, county veterinarian Linda DeChambeau, who helped care for and rehabilitate the previously collected animals, said the animals deserve more than that.

“These animals deserve a chance. Otherwise, why did we go through this ... if we’re just going to sweep them under the rug?” said DeChambeau, adding that there has been much monetary support from the community.

Gee said that in October, when Sterling and Ralph Spaid were first reported to police for animal cruelty, 17 of the worst cases to the animal control facility. There are 36 horses left on the farm that the county pays $240 per week to feed.

“The well has a bottom,” said Gee. “If the county hadn’t gotten involved, they would all be dead.”

According to Hampshire County Sheriff Nathan Sions, Ralph Spaid was found guilty of 19 counts of animal cruelty and one count of obstructing justice on Feb. 15.

If the horses are not adopted before April, Sions said they will go to auction. DeChambeau said if that occurs, the horses will most likely be purchased to be slaughtered.

“The problem with taking horses to a stock sale, in today’s economy, they will end up slaughtered,” said DeChambeau.

DeChambeau also said that due to a recent change in horse slaughtering laws, the horses will have to be transported to either Mexico or Canada to be butchered, which will provide more stress.

Sions said that once the horses are sold, it is no longer in the hands of the county.

“What happens after they’re sold at auction, I don’t have any idea,” said Sions, adding that it’s an “unrealistic expectation” for the county to be expected to care for the horses.

Another point of contention between DeChambeau and Gee was the execution of two stallions found on the farm. Gee said that when he, Sions, a deputy and equine officer Genevieve Szabo went to the Spaid farm to retrieve the stallions, Szabo was not able to get near them. Gee said they called Fred Adams, a veterinarian in Keyser, to come and evaluate the horses and he recommended that they be euthanized.

“These horses are vicious; they will come at you,” said Gee of the deceased stallions. “(Adams) told me and the sheriff that we had to euthanize these two horses.”

DeChambeau said that stallions need special handling and that she can imagine the animals “freaked out” in the situation.

“I suspect they didn’t include me because I never would have approved them to do this,” said DeChambeau.

Gee said of the 17 horses that the county originally rescued, three of them died, five have been adopted and the rest are available to be adopted.

Sions said that anyone interested in adopting any of the horses should contact Szabo at 304-822-0732. Before being adopted, the horses will need a Coggins test, to check for equine infectious anemia, and will be provided a dose of de-worming medication. The county asks that adopters give a $100 donation to help with the fees incurred in the horse’s care.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..