Volunteers from across North America have been sheltering the animals in Mason County
Prichard, WV (June 9, 2010) – Custody of 49 rescued equines that United Animal Nations (UAN) volunteers have been sheltering in Mason County since May 28 has been granted to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their owner, Gary Belcher of Prichard, is barred from owning any animal or having any animal on his property for five years and must pay a $900 fine for his violations. If Belcher violates this stipulation he will face a fine not exceeding $2,000 and forfeiture of the animal.
In a hearing Tuesday afternoon, Belcher pleaded guilty to three charges of misdemeanor animal cruelty stemming from the condition of the horses, ponies, mules and donkeys removed from his property on May 27. Many of the animals were extremely emaciated and suffering from a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves, parasite infestation and untreated wounds.
EARS volunteer Nova Keaton of Oak Harbor, Ohio gets Clifford “the Big Red Mule” to take some hay at the temporary shelter in Mason County, West Virginia.
The HSUS worked with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter to rescue the equines from Belcher’s Prichard property after receiving complaints concerning the poor health of the animals.
In the weeks since the rescue, UAN and The HSUS have been caring for the animals around-the-clock at a temporary shelter. UAN has deployed 25 volunteers from as far as British Columbia, Michigan and Wisconsin to set up the temporary shelter and care for the horses. Distinguished by their red shirts, UAN volunteers are specially trained to care for animals at temporary shelters after they have been rescued from cruelty and neglect situations or displaced by natural disasters. UAN has 3,000 trained, active volunteers in the United States and Canada, including 4 in West Virginia.
“UAN volunteers have taken time off of work and left their families behind to give these once-neglected animals the care and attention they deserve,” said UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies, who traveled from California to manage the volunteer team. “We are grateful they will now have a chance to live happy lives with loving families.”
Despite their initially poor condition, most of the animals are thriving under proper care. Once the horses gain strength they will be placed with equine rescue groups throughout the region and put up for adoption. Anyone interested in adopting should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please support our work in West Virginia by donating to our Disaster Relief Fund.
- Read more about this emergency sheltering effort and see photos on our Emergency Response Blog.
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations (UAN) focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Learn more at www.uan.org.