Possibly as many as 300 animals are being rescued at this hour from a Louisa County farm in what is being described by law enforcement as an animal neglect case.
“The conditions inside are pretty deplorable. That’s the best word I can use to describe it,” Louisa County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mark Stanton said.
It all started early this morning when the Louisa County Animal Control Division received a call about goats being in the roadway on West Old Mountain Road.
“Our ACO officer came out, located the goats and went to try to bring them back in and found multitudes of animals that were actually in distress or actually deceased already,” Stanton said. “We started an investigation from there.”
Horses, emus, goats, sheep, guinea pigs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys and a peacock are among the hundreds of animals being cared for and rescued at this time.
Three goats and two guinea pigs were in such bad condition that an on-scene veterinarian determined they needed to be euthanized. In some instances, Stanton said, there was no food in the cages.
“It’s not something we like to do, but there was no choice in the matter in this one,” Stanton said.
Right now, the sheriff’s office, animal control officers and about a dozen volunteers from Louisa Community Animal Response Team are doing the best they can to render aid to each of the animals and are preparing to move them to a temporary shelter.
Volunteers dressed in Tyvek suits and wearing respirators walked cages back and forth at the more than 40-acre farm tonight as they worked to move the animals to safer conditions while taking their own safety precautions in the process.
“Literally, they’re going by species at a time,” he said. “We’ve already loaded up the rabbits, the peacock, the guinea pig and the cats. There were a huge amount of cats in cages.”
Animals were discovered everywhere—outside, inside a home, in barns, coops and in a variety of other nondescript buildings located on the property.
“We haven’t even started on the inside,” Stanton said. “We’re working on the outside ones first because of the temperature issues. That was at the determination of the vet, plus we have light inside the house.”
Stanton praised the work of animal response team volunteers.
“I can’t say enough good things about the CART team,” he said. “They brought all their equipment, their cages, their personnel, their vet and the whole nine yards. This is what they do.”
This is the first time that Stanton has personally worked alongside the team.
“I’ve never seen anything as well-oiled as the CART team is. They are the key to making this functional,” he said. “We’re taking our time. We’re not rushing through it. They’re checking every animal and rendering assistance immediately … and very caringly are transferring them over to our temporary shelter.”
Just as impressive, he said, is the response they’ve had from the community which has provided feed, wood shavings and hay for the various animals.
“It’s truly been warming to see that kind of participation from the community on it,” Stanton said.
The rescue operation, which began around 9 a.m. this morning, is expected to last well into the early morning hours of Thursday.
“We’re going to be here for a while,” Stanton said.
No warrants have been filed at this time pending the results of the investigation. The sheriff’s office would not comment on the owner of the animals as the investigation is ongoing.