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|Defense(s): ||Melissa Lobos|
|Judge(s):|| Jeffrey Mensch| CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Monday, Mar 14, 2011County: Union
» Holly Radel
» Dale Radel
» Laura Radel
A Mifflinburg family will pay $11,390 restitution and submit to monitored care of two horses under a plea agreement in a Union County animal cruelty case involving their seven horses, one of which was found dead on their property.
Dale and Holly Radel and their daughter, Laura Radel, all of Limestone Township, can keep two horses, according to the agreement filed Monday with Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Mensch.
The family had faced 12 summary citations, filed by officer Jack Ardrey, of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, stemming from March in which the PSPCA seized six horses and one dead horse from the Radel property at 2385 Red Ridge Road in Mifflinburg.
Each faced four counts of cruelty-neglect to animals stemming from a six-month investigation that began with a tip from an unidentified source and culminated on March 14.
Radels keep two mares
Under the agreement, the Radels will keep two mares. Ardrey, who had filed the charges, inspected the property to ensure the animals return to a "clean, safe and legally compliant" environment, according to the document.
"We certainly wouldn't have entered into the agreement if we didn't feel they could care for these animals," said Elizabeth Anderson, a PSPCA attorney who represented Union County in the case. "We hope for the best. We've developed a history with this family, and we will see if they can handle these horses."
The PSPCA adopted out the remaining horses to undisclosed recipients, said Wendy Marano, media and public relations specialist for the Philadelphia office of the PSPCA. The charitable group handles between 50 and 75 cases involving horses annually, she said.
There was an adoption fee for each horse but it was undisclosed, Anderson said, noting it typically varies.
"There is a charge, but it's within reason," Anderson said. The fees "generally are not what the horse is worth. We're not selling, but adopting out the animal. We often don't even recoup the costs of what it took to care for the horse."
There are PSPCA shelters statewide that handle equine rescue, including the Danville shelter, which can take 12 horses, Marano said.
As with other animals, the PSPCA has the new owners sign a written agreement that the horse will come back to the organization if they can no longer care for it.
The Radels stood accused of failing to provide the horses with necessary sustenance, sanitary shelter and wormer for parasite control and failing to provide farrier care, including trimming and shoeing, to four of the horses.
Starting next month, Ardrey will inspect the property once a month for the next two years to ensure all structures and paddocks are sound, safe, clean and maintained. He also will check for proper nutrition of the animals.
The daily cost of horse care varies, Anderson said, based on factors such as the horse's size, age and condition. Hay prices vary by region, and the average horse eats roughly $2 to $7 worth of hay a day, she said.
If the horse eats grain, that runs about $50 a month, again depending upon region.
Farrier care, which includes trimming and shoeing hooves, is usually about $40, but it can run higher; it's performed every six to 10 weeks but some horses may require farrier care as often as every two weeks, she said. Routine equine dental care can run $500 on average per year but that also varies by animal, Anderson said.
The Radels also will replace fencing on the property from barbed wire that had been used.
The plea agreement states "there was already an incident with the defendants' deceased horse." Barbed wire isn't considered acceptable because horses can become tangled in it and bleed out.
Limit on animals
The Radels also agreed to a three-year limit on the number of animals they can have on the property, according to the plea agreement. They also will provide the PSPCA the names and contact information for their veterinarian, farrier and equine dentist.
The board bill for the animals was $14,460, based upon a $60 per day fee for all the horses; Marano said the amount is the average cost to PSPCA for horses.
However, the PSPCA compromised on the restitution to $9,990 plus $1,490 in transport, court costs and professional fees, according to the plea agreement.
The family's homestead is about three acres of rural property, Holly Radel said in October. She said the animals were kept in a shed that Dale and Laura Radel had built for them, and they mainly were for pleasure riding.
One of the horses was Laura Radel's Future Farmers of America equine project while she attended Mifflinburg Area High School, Holly Radel said. Three of the horses are mustangs that the Radels have had for about six years, she said. She didn't know the breeds of the remaining three.
Melissa Lobos, the attorney representing the Radel family, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
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