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Saturday, Dec 17, 2011County: Frederick
Alleged: James Wilford Houseman, III
An Adams County man who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges following the November 2011 seizure of malnourished and neglected horses from a Littlestown farm is facing additional charges in Frederick County, Maryland.
James Houseman, of Littlestown, was charged with animal cruelty after the remains of a horse under his care were found in Maryland. Those involved with a thoroughbred rescue group said that horse is just the tip of the iceberg in a disturbing situation.
Laurie Calhoun of the Foxie G Foundation said she has been working with and rescuing thoroughbreds for 26 years and has never in that time experienced something more devastating and shocking than what she recently found at two farms in Maryland.
Calhoun said Houseman had voluntarily given several mares to her foundation, some which were in worse conditions than others. However, she said she knew there were some horses that had been under his care that were unaccounted for, so she went looking at two Frederick County properties where Houseman had been leasing land and keeping horses.
One property is Thurmont, the other in Emmitsburg. Calhoun said she could not believe what she found: dozens and dozens of bones, horse carcases, and a decomposing horse corpse.
"I've never honestly seen anything close to this," she said. "It means those horses suffered. They died probably slowly and painfully."
A lawyer for the owner of the property confirmed Wednesday that Houseman had been leasing the property during that time and was caring for several horses there. The lawyer also said that Houseman did not pay rent and the lease was later terminated.
Calhoun said investigators are collecting DNA from the remains to prove they are the horses that Houseman was supposed to be caring for during that time.
In December 2011, abc27 News videotaped underweight and neglected horses at the same farm. At the time, a veterinarian estimated the horses would die in a few months. Experts estimate the horses died about eight months ago.
Calhoun and others, including Debi Rogers, said Houseman should have never gotten any of those horses. They said records confirm the horses under Houseman's care, both in Adams and Frederick County, came from the Star Barn in Grantville.
The owners of that stable have been rumored to have sold some horses to slaughter and given others to Houseman.
For months, advocacy groups have been working tediously to try to track down all of the horses from the Star Barn in the hopes of saving them. It appears for many it is now to late, and that frustrates them.
"It's horrific. It shouldn't have happened. We tried to report and inform people of what we thought was happening and nothing was done to help these animals," Rogers said. "I really still think we need to look into what happened at the Star Barn."
Houseman is due in Frederick County court on March 6.
- WHTM - Feb 6, 2013
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