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Tuesday, Feb 15, 2005County: Westmoreland
Disposition: Civil penalty imposed
Defendant/Suspect: Grover Johnson
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
A Fayette County man was cited Tuesday for allegedly depriving eight horses of adequate food, shelter and veterinary care. Westmoreland County Humane Agent Elaine Gower said she filed eight counts of cruelty to animals against Grover Johnson, of Dawson, after removing the animals from a farm along Creek Road in East Huntingdon Township.
"They were in really bad shape," Gower said. "One had been down for a day and was dead by the time we got there. The others are underweight and suffering from a variety of health problems."
Parasites, worms and untreated wounds were among the horses' maladies, she added.
"We have been there many times over the past few years, and we've issued warnings about veterinary care," Gower said, noting that Johnson boarded his horses at the farm. "The farm's owners were not responsible for their care."
The summary citations were filed Tuesday with Scottdale Magisterial District Judge J. Bruce King, Gower said.
"We're seeking forfeiture of the horses," she added.
The surviving animals have been transported to an undisclosed location in Unity Township.
"They'll be isolated and evaluated and then sent to foster homes until these charges are resolved," she added. In the meantime, "we desperately need donations of feed, hay, straw, sawdust and money to help care for these animals."
Gower can be contacted at the Action For Animals shelter in Derry Township at 724-539-2544.
|Grover Johnson was found guilty on April 12 of eight counts of animal cruelty. Johnson, of Dawson, was cited by Westmoreland County Humane Agent Elaine Gower after one of his horses was found dead in a mud-covered pasture Feb. 12 and seven others were severely malnourished. The animals were being kept by Johnson at the John Grimm farm, located along Creek Road in East Huntingdon Township. |
Gower was first alerted to the situation in January 2004 and had issued warnings to Johnson to take better care of his animals, she said.
Grimm testified yesterday in a summary trial before Magisterial District Judge J. Bruce King, of Scottdale, that although he allowed Johnson to use his pasture and barn and sometimes help to feed the horses, he had no official responsibility to care for them.
The surviving horses were removed from the farm by humane officials and placed in foster care under the supervision of veterinarian Dr. Tricia Mucci.
Mucci testified yesterday that all of them were severely malnourished and that several had sores, parasitic and/or bacterial infections, worms and untreated wounds.
That testimony was corroborated by Dr. Steven Gross, a veterinarian from Pleasant Hills Pet Hospital, who went to the farm Feb. 12 and said he saw the dead horse and examined the survivors and the barn in which they were kept.
Asked by Gower if the conditions were clean and sanitary, Gross said, "No."
He described one horse as "almost starved." Another horse, he said, "We could see the ribs quite clearly. ... For some reason, the horses were not getting the nutrition."
When asked if even an amateur horse owner should have recognized the dire condition of the animals and sought veterinary care, Gross said, "Someone who has been around horses even a year or two should have known they were in need of care."
Johnson, in defending himself, presented receipts for several purchases of feed and provided photographs that he said depicted adequate living conditions for the animals.
At first he said he owned the horses for just a short time, some for just 10 to 15 days, but then he changed his testimony a number of times. The dead horse, he said, was injured and required surgery when he got it in September 2004.
Gower presented photos that she said showed several of the horses had been at the Grimm farm more than a year.
In making his ruling, King said he grew up on a farm and was well aware of how animals should be cared for. He found Johnson guilty on all eight counts, imposing a fine of $2,518 and restitution to Action for Animals of $3,681 for treatment and care of the surviving horses.
Johnson has 30 days to file an appeal. Until then, King prohibited him from owning or purchasing any more horses.
After the proceedings, Gower described Johnson as "definitely a person who acquires horses he can't take care of. He doesn't own a barn. He doesn't live where there is a barn."
Asked to explain his actions, Johnson declined to comment before leaving the courtroom.
|Source: The Tribune Review - April 13, 2005|
Update posted on Apr 13, 2005 - 1:47AM
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