Va. farm that took in rescued horses accused of mistreating animals

WASHINGTON — Investigators say an attempt to help some abused horses in Virginia ended with the animals being abused a second time.

On Wednesday, 42 horses were seized at New Beginnings Horse Rescue farm in King William County, following multiple reports of horses left in bad shape with little or no food or water, according to the King William County Sheriff’s Office.

Six of the horses seized had been placed at New Beginnings after they were rescued last year from Peaceable Farm in Orange County.

In October 2015, dozens of horses were found in terrible conditions at Peaceable Farm. The farm’s owner Anne Goland, who also goes by the name Anne Shumate Williams, was indicted by a grand jury in March 2016.

Animal rescue organizations in Virginia do not have any oversight by the Commonwealth and are not inspected or regulated, officials in Orange County said in a joint statement:

“During the Orange County seizure in 2015, our Animal Control Office faced a crisis situation involving more than 100 horses and we were led to believe New Beginnings was a legitimate rescue organization.

“It is deeply discouraging that these horses have suffered abuse and lack of care again.  Unfortunately, Orange County does not have jurisdiction over these animals. The Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Sheriff agree that criminal law enforcement jurisdiction regarding these horses is with King William County and not Orange County.  The County Attorney for Orange confirms that we have no civil jurisdiction or legal property interest in these animals since they have been moved.

“We understand, and share, the deep concern and frustration of all those who are outraged at the suffering these horses have endured.  The fact that the situation in King William County is strikingly similar to what occurred in Orange County last October underscores the reality that the lack of oversight, inspection and regulation of animal rescue facilities in Virginia  limits the ability of local government to prevent, manage or budget for these situations.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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