Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19404
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment, Burning - Caustic Substance
Animal: horse
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Elizabeth Cannon
Judge(s): Ava Bryant Ayers


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Thursday, Mar 1, 2012

County: Dorchester

Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 4 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Dwight Benjamin McCloud

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

The images are graphic, the starvation and abuse obvious. Four horses severely underfed at a farm in Summerville. Two of the horses have since been voluntarily signed over to a rescue farm. Elizabeth Steed of LEARN Horse Rescue says, "When they first came in they had to have muzzles on because they were trying to eat the shavings in the stall."

The starvation was only the beginning as one of the horses also has severe burn marks all over the back. Veterinarian Howland Mansfield, who first responded to the call, explained that kerosene was poured on the horses back. It's an old wives tale that the oil is a remedy for rain rot. "I believe it was kerosene and possibly oil that was poured on the horse, which caused burning of the skin, and the horse lost large portions of the skin and parts of the musculature on the top as well."

The description of the pain is almost too much to hear. Steed says, "Basically he was slowly burning from the chemical."

Maggots were even found in the burned flesh, pockets of unhatched eggs even found even six days later. "I was combing some of the areas of the hair up front and we still found pockets of maggots."

The other two horses found on the farm still remain in the custody of the owner, Dwight McCloud. Stopping by McCloud's home, you can catch a glimpse of the remaining horses in the backyard.

McCloud did not want to speak on camera about the situation, but paperwork filled out by animal control shows, he had recently fallen on hard times. In the paperwork, he explains he "had to cut back on food because he couldn't afford it."

McCloud also quoted in the paperwork as "upset" because he was ticketed even after signing the horses away. He is quoted as saying, they were "humiliating" him.

Mansfield says, there is no excuse for starving animals. "We can find them a home if you cannot care for your animals, we are more than happy to find a place for them."

When asked if the paint gelding, named Whisper, with the burn marks will have scars for life, Steed responded, "All of us, that have taken care of him, we are profoundly affected. So I think we are the ones who are going to have the scars. You just never get used to it, and as many times as I have seen that look in their eyes, it just never gets easy."

Steed went on to estimate that the recovery process will take 3-4 months, and thousands of dollars. Even if McCloud is assessed fines for the neglect, that money will not be funneled to the care of the animals. LEARN is a non-profit rescue farm that works off of donations, and with now 30 horses on the property, any help would be appreciated.

McCloud is scheduled to appear in court on April 5.


Case Updates

The owner of four malnourished horses pleaded guilty to seven citations and was fined Thursday morning in the Berkeley County Magistrate Court in Moncks Corner.

The defendant, Dwight N. Benjamin McCloud, initially pleaded "not guilty" to the charges until the prosecution presented evidence and the first of three witnesses.

The citations in State of South Carolina County of Berkeley vs. Dwight N. Benjamin McCloud are three counts of failure to provide care or treatment for a diseased or injured animal; three counts of failure to provide humane treatment to animals; and one count of failure to provide adequate food and water.

McCloud did not have any legal representation, although when Judge Ava Bryant Ayers asked if he understood he had the right to a public defender that he waived he said that he did understand.

Berkeley County Animal Control issued the seven citations after receiving a call on Feb. 29 about malnourished horses spotted on Old Dairy Road property in the Jedburg area of Berkeley County.

"The state has a burden of proof of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Ayers said.

"I'm not here to fight anything," McCloud said. "I'm here just to see if I can get some consideration."

"You pleaded not guilty," Ayers said. "The state is required to have a trial . . . their burden of proof is very high. Are you wanting to plead not guilty, or plead guilty and ask for consideration?

"You have a right to have a trial. Is that what you want?"

"I just wanted the right to express myself," McCloud said. "I explained to the officer at the time . . ."

"The state will present its witnesses," Ayers said, adding that McCloud has the right to ask witnesses questions and present his case if he so chooses.

Shambley Equine Clinic veterinarian Dr. Howland Mansfield, who initially treated the horses, stepped up to the witness stand and showed Ayers photos of the malnourished horses. The witness is considered an expert in her field, Ayers said.

Mansfield said she went to the property Feb. 29 and described the conditions.

"At first I didn't even see any horses," Mansfield said. "Mr. McCloud met me and showed me the horses and we went back. There were three horses in one paddock and one horse in a small round pen."

"Could you describe the condition of each of those horses?" Prosecutor and Assistant Berkeley County Attorney Elizabeth Cannon asked.

"The one in the round pen was mildly underweight," Mansfield said. "The round pen was very thick in mud, manure, urine and moldy hay."

She also described dirty drinking water, and said that some of the horses needed proper dental care in order to eat and get their nutrition.

"The other two horses were severely underweight," Mansfield said. "The bay mare was very poorly malnourished and was starting to some rain rot " which is a bacterial infection of the horse.

"The third one was a stallion who was severely underweight, had rain rot all over his back to the point that it was in big chunks. On his left flank there was a very large portion of skin missing and it was raw with maggots in it. It had been like that for a while."

Rain rot proliferates in hot, humid climates, she said.

"Was it sufficiently treated in your opinion?" Cannon asked.

"No," Mansfield said. "It had been an open wound for some time. The sun was causing it to blister."

Two horses were taken to LEARN Horse Rescue in Meggett. They will be adopted by Willie Nelson and taken to Texas as soon as they have recovered, which could be as early as June.

The two horses remaining on McCloud's property, which LEARN also offered to take - an offer McCloud refused - were visited by Berkeley County Animal Control and Mansfield on March 21.

The two remaining horses have all their vaccinations. He complied with all the items on the animal control list except the farrier, who is supposed to come by today.

After the first portion of testimony, McCloud changed his plea. "I'll just plead guilty," McCloud said.

Due to the conditions of the horses, the prosecutor said the state wishes to give the maximum fine and continue to monitor the horses.

Ayers granted a two-week continuance on two of the citations related to the remaining two horses.

Ayers charged McCloud with the other five citations, each for $1,092.50 or 30 days in jail, for a total fine of $5,462.50.
Source: journalscene.com - Apr 5, 2012
Update posted on Apr 5, 2012 - 4:06PM 

References

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