Reporting Derek Valcourt
CENTREVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—Nearly a year after Animal Control officials executed the largest seizure of neglected horses in Maryland history, some of the 133 horses taken are now on their way back to their owner.
Derek Valcourt has more on the plea deal that’s making it all possible.
Prosecutors agreed to drop 123 of the animal neglect charges and give the owner back 63 of the healthier horses seized last year.
Sky Eye Chopper 13 was over Centreville’s Canterbury Farm back in April, where even from a distance some horses showed obvious signs of weight loss. Animal rescuers say others had parasites and lice.
“Every horse on that property is suffering from some level of lack of care,” said Stacy Segal, Humane Society of the United States.
Several horses were so bad the owner agreed to euthanize them. Queen Anne’s County animal services and rescuer groups confiscated the remaining 133 horses on the property. The owner, Marsha Parkinson, was charged with 133 counts of animal neglect.
But Monday a judge agreed to give Parkinson probation before judgment on 10 charges and give her back nearly half of her horses.
Under the plea deal, once inspectors check out the farm Parkinson will immediately get back 25 of her horses. If all goes well, 90 days later she’ll get back another 20; 60 days later, another 18.
All along, Parkinson denied neglecting the animals, saying they were not suffering or in danger. In a statement she blasted Animal Control and the Humane Society.
“They [Animal Control and HSUS] had no basis to take my horses, and I should never have been charged,” Parkinson said. “HSUS saw an opportunity to grab headlines and raise significant money in order to further their own agenda at my expense.”
But animal services disagree.
“I don’t know how somebody can argue the point that there was not a need for intervention,” said Dave MacGlashan, Queen Anne’s County animal services director.
MacGlashan says without the plea deal, the case could have been tied up in court for a while and has no regrets about seizing the animals.
“We would not have intervened if it were not critical that we intervene, and things were very poor,” he said.
As part of the plea deal, Parkinson’s farm will be inspected regularly for the next year- some of them surprise inspections. Officials say after a sale of some property, she now has more money to care for the horses.
Parkinson’s attorneys say after her probation she will apply to have her record wiped clean.