WASHINGTON — A shocking case of animal cruelty unfolded this week near Richmond, Virginia, after authorities discovered around 500 animals living on a farm, many in squalid conditions.
“Some of these animals were neglected to the point that they were starving,” said Donald Lowe, chief deputy with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office.
Hundreds have been rescued and taken to a temporary shelter at the Louisa Fireman’s Fairgrounds.
The sheriff’s office, along with other county agencies and volunteers, are still evaluating hundreds of others to determine which ones are in need of immediate veterinary care.
The animals rescued include goats, emus, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, ducks, cats and guinea pigs. Several goats had to be euthanized, officials said.
“Everybody has a soft spot for animals,” said Lowe. “It’s heartbreaking when you see this.”
The investigation began Wednesday morning, after deputies received a call about goats wondering around in the middle of a road. After they responded, they said they found other animals that were in distress and some that were dead.
“Naturally your focus is ‘Let’s rescue the ones that we can,'” said Lowe. “The top priority is taking care of these animals and finding them good homes after all this.”
Although the sheriff’s office confirmed that a criminal investigation is underway, it would not comment specifically on whether any charges were pending against the property owner, a 77-year-old woman.
In the meantime, the county’s Community Animal Response Team is asking for help.
“What we need immediately are large containers of drinking water for watering the animals,” CART said in a statement.
The group is also asking for financial donations, and it posted information on how to help on its Facebook page.
“Any kind of donation that people can offer would be greatly appreciated,” Lowe added.
No animals are available for adoption at this point, but if any do become available, that process would be handled by the Louisa County Animal Shelter.