More horses seized from area farm

Photo courtesy of Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue

THORNTON—As part of an ongoing investigation, more animals were removed from a Taylor County farm, where multiple horses and a cow were found to be neglected.

According to West Virginia State Police Officer Sergeant Garrison, the department, along with various rescue groups, visited the Thornton farm of Marvin Reay “Marty” Austin, 67, this past Saturday, to remove the remaining animals in his care.

Garrison revealed that they were acting through a follow up warrant issued to have the animals seized from the property.

“As part of Mr. Austin’s bond agreement, he is not to have any animals, so the state police, with the assistance of the rescue groups, worked to remove the remaining animals from the farm,” he reported.

Fifteen additional animals were seized from the property and were relocated with various rescue groups.

The investigation began in April, officers from the State Police obtained a search warrant of the farm after complaints were made concerning the wellbeing of the animals located there.

During the search, 22 horses were removed from the farm, where it has been reported that dead and decaying animals were found.

Officials reported that a cow on the property was severely malnourished, had become over-burdened by lice, was suffering from infected ulcers, had no access to food, was severely dehydrated, could not stand due to the neglect it had suffered.

A veterinarian working with rescue efforts found the cow laying in deep mud and manure and appeared it had been in that position for over two weeks. The cow, after receiving 25 gallons of water, was humanely euthanized by the vet.

In addition to the cow, the doctor assessed the horses on the farm. The veterinarian identified the 20 worst cases of horses that could be transported, and those horses were taken by equine rescue groups.

Austin has been charged with 22 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and his daughter, Grace Austin, 20, also of Thornton, has been charged with one count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

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