No charges yet in massive animal rescue operation in Orange

No charges yet in massive animal rescue operation in Orange

SOMERSET, VA (WWBT) - More than 100 horses had to be rescued from Peaceable Farms on Liberty Mills Road in Somerset.  Some horses and cats were dead by the time deputies arrived. Ironically, Peaceable Farms advertises itself as a non profit that rescues horses.  However, according to authorities, that was far from true. Most of the animals are now with rescue groups.  Investigators say many animals had to get immediate care.  

The Orange County sheriff says the farm owners is cooperating and was still on the farm on Wednesday.  "Had we not been able have her cooperate with us to do that a lot more horses probably would have stayed on the property," Orange County Sheriff Mark Amos says.  "If we place charges immediately, then cooperation really goes out the door."

The sheriff say that's because  a Virginia code does not allow an animal to be seized, unless a vet says it is at death's door. Each animal on the farm must be looked at closely by a vet before it can be removed.  It's frustrating for those closest to the investigation.  "I would love for that law to be looked at," Sheriff Amos says.  "This as an extremely bad situation, and I think anybody that has any influence with our legislator, or with your own legislator, to make comments to them and see what they can do about getting something so these laws can be changed."

At the same time, there is an internal investigation happening within the sheriff's office.  "A complaint has been made that we didn't respond fast enough basically," Sheriff Amos says.

According to a court affidavit, the sheriff's office was contacted on October 3 about the poor condition of the horses seen from the road.  Ten days later, photos were sent to deputies.  On October 17, several calls were made about the horses' welfare. Two days later, deputies started rescuing the animals.  The sheriff couldn't comment any further on that part of the investigation.

Rescue groups are currently seeking donations to help care for the animals.  The sheriff's office says they are putting together a list of groups that have helped.

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