(08/03/2006)
Sheriff Carl Ballengee is charging a Walnut Road man with ten counts of animal cruelty involving at least ten horses, six adults and four colts.

Charges have been filed against Tom Cooper, whose case will be taken before a Calhoun magistrate.

"Some of the animal's conditions are life threatening," said Ballengee, who called local veterinarian Dan Cain to examine them.

Ballengee and other officers went to the Cooper property to discuss complaints about the horses not being fed.

Officers took photographs of horses they describe as mal-nourished, stating in the criminal complaint that their "ribs were showing and hips were sticking out."

Officers confirmed there was little grain to feed the animals, and no grass or hay available.

Ballengee obtained transportation and placed the horses in the care of other individuals.

Sheriff Ballengee said he and other officials have been investigating an animal cruelty complaint regarding dogs on upper Nicut, saying that case did not cross the threshold to file charges, particularly related to mal-nourishment.

Roane County Sheriff Todd Cole has confiscated several horses from a Roane County farm belonging to Lori Gabri, a veterinarian who works in Charleston.

"It was pitiful," the sheriff said. "There was no pasture at all and there were too many horses on one little piece of property."

Cole returned to the farm with state veterinarian Dr. Joe Starcher, Director of Animal Health for the WV Dept. of Agriculture.

The horses showed signs of severe mal-nourishment.

"They were very thin," Cole said. "You could see their ribs, backbone and hip bones."

Cole said Starcher recommended the animals be removed immediately.


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