Reporting Christie Ileto
SEVERN, Md. (WJZ) — The owner at the center of an alleged animal abuse case in Anne Arundel County is breaking his silence.
He told Christie Ileto the animals weren’t starved and explains why they looked so skinny.
“All we’re trying to do is help the animals,” said Ron Phelps.
That’s how Phelps and his daughter, Leah Dorsey, describe what they were trying to do with their 12 animals that Anne Arundel County Animal Control seized from a Severn property last week.
“We removed livestock from the property that were in poor condition. Some of them were emaciated,” said Justin Mulcahy, Anne Arundel County police.
The owners say the ponies, goats and horses weren’t food deprived but one was ill.
“The horse was not starved. It was sick. It contracted worms from the auction it was bought at,” said Phelps.
While authorities say the animals were grossly underweight, the owners say that’s because they were rehabilitating them after buying them at an auction.
“Sometimes they come as skin and bones, on death’s door. But they come to us like that. It’s no fault of our own,” Dorsey said.
Police say they first started investigating the property in January following an anonymous tip about a dead horse. Animal Control found the horse’s body and two dead baby goats.
“The day that he went down, the vet was called out. He had passed naturally on his own,” Dorsey said. “And the goats, they were born stillborns. And it all kind of happened the same day, just dumped on us at the same time.”
Authorities made several visits to property that belongs to Dorsey’s fiance thereafter, ordering improved conditions.
“Within two weeks, everything was corrected. Everything was up to their standards,” Phelps said.
But police say initial progress didn’t last long.
The animals are now recovering at a farm rescue.
Phelps is now left with just one animal. He says he hopes authorities will see he was just trying to nurse the animals back to health, not starve them to death.
Police and the state’s attorney are now investigating. The owners say they’re optimistic they’ll get their animals back.