Charges considered related to conditions in animal pens

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

By Diana McFarland 

Managing editor

A flock of buzzards led to the discovery of two dozen emaciated dogs and seven pigs on a wooded parcel of land in the Carrsville area of Isle of Wight County. 

Criminal charges are being considered against the four individual animal owners involved in the case, according to Isle of Wight County Animal Control Officer Tiffany Webb. 

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The dog owners, who have already been found guilty of civil charges, were Pete Walton, Jharvis Holland and Carol Holland, while Clyde Holland owned the pigs, said Lt. Tommy Potter with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.  

Animal Services was alerted to the situation in September from an individual who spotted buzzards flying over the property, said Webb. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Upon investigation, officers found a dead pig among six others in emaciated condition in a pen in the woods, said Webb. 

The investigation also led to the discovery of a series of open-air dog pens where 24 beagles and hounds were living in deplorable conditions, said Webb. 

The ground level pens were wet and muddy, did not have roofs, there was inadequate shelter, the dogs were emaciated and it appeared they were being fed mostly bread, much of which was moldy, said Webb. 

One raised pen contained a “mountain of feces,” much of which was in various stages of decomposition, said Webb. 

Water buckets were filled with blackish, dirty water and were found to contain mosquito larvae, said Webb. 

All of the dogs were infested with lungworms, which is only acquired from eating moldy food, said Webb. Most of the dogs ended up testing positive for heartworms and all had lice, among other maladies, she said. 

What followed was a series of marathon days filled with finding help from other statewide agencies and rescue organizations, as well as the care of the animals themselves, said Webb.

The dogs required multiple baths, to include lime sulfur dips to get rid of the lice, said Webb. 

The already short Animal Shelter staff relied on volunteers, to include Webb’s mother, to help with the dogs and the paperwork that resulted from the seizure. 

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One pig had to be euthanized due to injuries that officers attributed to it having to navigate a pen full of shards of aluminum and other debris, said Webb. 

That pig’s body had to be taken to Lynchburg for a necropsy — one of only two labs for that purpose in the state, said Webb. Results are still pending.

Diamonds in the Rough assisted with the remaining pigs, said Webb, adding that the pigpen, roughly fashioned from wood pallets, was not in as bad of shape as those for the dogs.

Some people think hunting dogs, particularly beagles and hounds, are disposable and enjoy being exposed to the elements like the wild game they are used to hunting, said Webb. 

While criminal charges are pending, the three dog owners and one pig owner went to court on civil charges. The pig owner and one dog owner plead guilty and relinquished their animals, said Webb. 

The other two dog owners wanted to keep their animals, but the judge ruled that they be taken into the custody of Isle of Wight County Animal Services, said Webb.

All of the animal owners were ordered to pay restitution for the costs involved in the case, said Webb. 

One deficiency that was made apparent was the lack of facilities for housing livestock — as well as lacking the means of transporting them, despite Isle of Wight being a mostly rural county, said Webb. 

The shelter simply did not have the means to transport and house the pigs and was fortunate to have the help of Diamonds in the Rough for the pigs, said Webb.  {/mprestriction}

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