20 horses seized in Charles City after reports of animal cruelty

20 horses seized in Charles City after reports of animal cruelty

CHARLES CITY, VA (WWBT) - A viewer calls NBC12 after almost two dozen horses are seized from a farm in Charles City.

Charles City court documents say 20 horses were taken from a farm at 9500 Sturgeon Point Road on Monday. It is now completely empty, except for several dogs.

The documents identify the woman in charge of the boarding facility as Rhiannan Vitiello. A photo of her is now part of a search warrant because investigators say the horse she's on is too thin and should be under veterinary care.

According to court documents, complaints were filed with the Charles City Sheriff's Office that horses were underweight and sick looking. Even though nearly two dozen horses were seized, the documents say one woman is still looking for her horse. It says Vitiello told her the horse may have been taken to another property in Crewe, but "...based upon the starving, sickly conditions of the other horses she saw, her horse may even be dead."

According to Charles City Court records, Vitiello was found guilty of several counts of animal cruelty in 2012.  She was again charged in January, but those charges are still working its way through court.

The sheriff's office say Vitiello has not yet been charged in this latest case.

Several horses are with rescue groups, including Central Virginia Horse Rescue.

"It's never easy to see horses that have been allowed to suffer," said Cynthia Smith, director of Central Virginia Horse Rescue.

She couldn't talk specifically about this case, but says it takes a lot to get these horses healthy again.

"Just one that's just been starved, it takes six to eight weeks of specialized feeding, then probably three to four months to get them back into a really healthy weight," said Smith.

While the Charles City Sheriff wouldn't go on camera, he tells NBC12 if you had your horses boarded here and have any concerns, call his office at 804- 829-9265.

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