At first there was only darkness and the putrid stench of death.
Then the flashlights were switched on and narrow beams of light revealed the dead, near-dead and terrified horses of Peaceable Farms, in a scene described in media reports as “the most horrendous” scene of animal abuse.
“We’d shine a flashlight in a stall and there’d be walking skeletons staring back,” says Miah Proulx of Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue. “There was one horse” who was terrified “and he was lunging over the stall walls trying to bite people as we walked horses onto a big, open-air stock trailer.
“But as soon as (the rearing horse) saw the trailer and realized he was leaving, his whole personality changed. He was such a cool guy and he walked right on. Unfortunately, he was beyond hope, and he had to be euthanized after his rescue. He was a 17-hand Saddlebred named Carl Meyers.”
Proulx worked alongside several other horse rescues, whose operators lined up with trucks and trailers to remove approximately 80 horses during a raid on the 501 c 3 nonprofit horse charity led by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Oct. 20. The owner of the farm, Anne Goland, has been charged with 27 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, according to the Washington Post, and was being held without bail.
As prosecutors prepared their case, five rescue organizations worked tirelessly to triage endangered animals, focusing their attention on the living, doing their best to ignore the carnage. Rescue organizations were: Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, New Beginnings Horse Rescue, and Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue.
There was no time to give in to tears. Horses were in immediate danger of dying; one died in the night, and another after he was rescued, Proulx says.
“When I got to the property the bodies of dead horses were being loaded into a dumpster,” Proulx says. “One Thoroughbred died on his own. We don’t know who he was. He had an illegible tattoo, and was estimated to be in his late 20s. His body condition was appalling, and he had a heart murmur.”
She adds, “Horses were tagged with red, yellow or green tags, depending on how critical they were. The red-tagged ones had the most critical need to get off the property because there was a chance they wouldn’t survive the night. We were able to take seven red-tagged horses, but sadly there was one out in a field, and we couldn’t find him. He did wind up going down during the night, and he had to be euthanized the following morning.”
Working madly, wildly, but with fanatical purpose, Proulx took 29 horses.
Cindy Smith, of Central Virginia Horse Rescue, took 10 total equines, including mules, a Saddlebred, an Appaloosa, two Thoroughbreds, two miniature donkeys and two young mules.
The scene, she says, “Was like a bad circus.”
“We got the call on the 19th to be ready to move the next morning, because the sheriff and county attorney would be seizing the horses,” she says. “We were there by 10 the next morning (Oct. 20), and there were approximately seven other trailers on the scene at that time. Once the vets were all ready, and everything got moving, it was pretty organized.”
As the media filmed and reported the sting, trailers and trucks, pulled up, loaded horses and other animals, and pulled away. And in this way, nearly 100 animals were loaded up and transported to safety, Smith says.
“Was I shocked at the number of dead and starving animals? Yes. It’s almost like having PTSD; you go in and it affects you on such a visceral level,” Smith says. “But in rescue, we’re also lucky, because we feel like we’re doing something.”
And as they placed their hands on the needy horses, many more hands across Virginia and other states dug deep to support their effort.
As if they were airdropping food to prisoners of war, people and organizations came out of the woodwork to send food, money, blankets and supplies.
“The community support has just been amazing,” Proulx says. “Donations, both financial, and with equipment have been so tremendous I’m literally swimming in horse blankets. We’ve had volunteers come out to clean stalls, brush manes and monitor water levels.”
Rachel Miller, an equine specialist for Southern States feed and gardening store, organized much of the outpouring.
“My manager and I wanted to make sure that when the horses were taken off the farm, that they had all the alfalfa and Triple Crown Senior feed they needed. We just wanted to make sure the charities weren’t overburdened,” Miller says. “So I put out a request on Facebook, and it reached over 13,000 people. We were completely unprepared for the number of people who stepped up to help.”
Though the list of donors is too long to mention every business and person who gave, Miller notes that Triple Crown Nutrition donated a half ton of alfalfa the first day, as did Stanley Hay Company. Southern States, as well as the Southern States corporate office, donated Triple Crown Senior feed as well.
“Our customers and others in the community purchased feed and 74 bales of alfalfa hay. I’ve got customers who have donated round bales from their own supplies; one’s taking 11 round bales out to the charities, another took 50 round bales from their own storage to donate,” she says. “I even have a customer who has offered up to 50 bales, and to take them out, as needed, over the winter to support the horses.”
Donors have also purchased blankets, and Dover Saddlery stepped up to absorb shipping costs. Dover also donated blankets. Zoetis, an equine vaccine company, donated two cases of dewormer, and Farm Vet donated ample supplies of the costly drug, UlcerGard.
“We’ve had so many companies step up to help. The owner of Mad Tack, a small tack shop and local business, spent one day with his truck and trailer helping to pull those horses out of there, and he used his shop as a donation/storage spot,” she says. “This has hit everyone in our community. We’ve all seen rescue animals before, but the sheer numbers of thin, starving horses in horse country, that’s what I think we’re reacting to.
“This is an area where we pride ourselves on our horses,” Miller adds. “And the fact that this was a facility that was set up as a rescue, that’s what really got a lot of people. It was a place where horses were supposed to be getting helped. Instead they were dying.”
To read more on the charges against the property owner, please visit this link: http://www.nbc29.com/story/30349381/update-peaceable-farm-owner-charged-with-animal-cruelty
45 responses to “80+ horses rescued from Va. death farm”
Anna, to my knowledge, no one forced Goland to take those horses. It was her decision and it’s her fault that the horses were emaciated and died. Humans make decisions, animals suffer the consequences of those human decisions. Goland is despicable and if you try and make excuses for her, so are you.
I do understand what you are saying, but I’m afraid I disagree. But you know what? We all have different opinions towards just about everything so that’s fine! I don’t even know you, so I might as well be despicable.
SOME of you being flat out jerks will not make the animals any better, and it will also not change Miss Goland’s situation either. I completely agree that this was a terribly sad, unnecessary, and overall horrible event, but why don’t you stop being bull-headed towards each other and make a donation or do something liken to that! My neighbor is fostering one of the TBs involved in this event and I’ve been helping her every day after school. (I’m 14 and I feel like I’m showing more maturity than some of the authors of the comments I’ve seen!!)
Whether or not she was going through a horrible divorce she should not have allowed those poor animals suffer at her own hands off greed and that’s all it was was GREED! Note: the 503c non profit my butt. I hope you have a come back for this!
I would like to say Miss Goland was living in her Car (with a dead cat, naturally) so she wasn’t living in the greatest conditions. What she did is a disgusting, horrible thing, but I do believe she had nothing but the best intentions for those horses in her heart. She was in the middle of a divorce and given the condition of the horses in the first place, she ran a 20,000 dollar vet-bill, and went bankrupt. It wasn’t long before this incident that an event liken to this one happened at another one of her “Peaceable” farms. I wish articles would put more information on the many cats and dogs found dead or all but on her property. I do however, agree that Dean (in my opinion) knows next to nothing of horses.
That is no excuse for her actions.
Did I say otherwise
Anna no excuse for anyone to let this happen …. None…. You call and ask for help for those animals..
My god would you please refer to the part where I said what she did is disgusting and horrible? I DON’T disagree with you!
Why didn’t anyone see this happening over time, be it a family member mostly or law enforcement or someone, anyone?? Shame on the community for not stepping up of those people who knew about this!
Dean while I understand what you are saying…. if people would euthanize instead of dump horses that would be progress. Euthanasia is not inhumane. People need to step up and take responsibility for end of life care. Horses are a huge commitment. The slaughter issue is not related to hoarding.
How is it possible that not ONE person took the trouble to alert others as to what was happening on that farm!? Someone must have been there, this didn’t happen overnight!
God Bless the Angels would rescued this starving creatures… you are earning your wings…
Mentally ill? Most animal hoarders don’t have the presence of mind to set up three 501c3 to accept donations or launder money from her husband’s company. In 2013 she mover $ 1.1 million through this charity and when authorities caught on to her in Maryland she moved these poor animals to Virginia. No sympathy here and I hope she gets the book slapped at her for tax fraud as well as the maximum for animal abuse. While she starved some animals, her warmbloods were in much better order and she continued to purchase show type animals behind the disguise of the rescue. Poor Carl Meyers, the ASB, was being fostered by Anne until he could be rehomed since he had already been rescued by another organization. Absolute kudos to those who have stepped up to help these poor animals and I absolutely plan to put my established Equine Foundation to work to assist in stopping these situations and helping the rescues who are on the front lines of this abuse. Anne Goland (and all of you aliases) and your ex husband, maybe they will feed you more in prison than you did those horses. While the animal abuse laws may be behind on this this type of situation, I hope the IRS blasts all of them.
Felony animal abuse was approved in all 50 states, sadly, never used
Well run, licensed and vet inspected facilities to dispose humanely of the hundreds of unwanted horses is essential in a caring society. It helps to stop the inhumane traffic of horses travelling thousands of miles in crowded trucks to Canada or Mexico where they are frequently slaughtered in an extremely inhumane manner.
This is Great I am so Happy these Horses got rescued!! They deserve so much better! I just wish that all horses in these types of situations got to be rescued as well. I know of 80+ horses who are also in dire need of the same fate as these guys. There has been many efforts made and no one will seem to do anything…. https://www.facebook.com/Maine-Equine-542304512574364/?fref=nf
For those who are just learning of this story, I encourage you to read more here: http://www.nbc29.com/story/30349381/update-peaceable-farm-owner-charged-with-animal-cruelty The primary caretaker, Anne Goland, is currently in jail. It is said that she was not even living in her home on the property when she was arrested because it was “unlivable” and the speculation is that she was living out of her car or a horse trailer. She has been denied bond and has been in jail since her arrest. She is charged with misdemeanors because this is how Virginia law currently stands. The case is complicated and far-reaching. None of the BOD members showed up to court last week for a scheduled hearing. Her ex-husband and people he is connected to form the board. The IRS was asked to investigate the financial aspect of this farm’s situation. If it interests you, NBC29 is the local station doing the most reporting.
Certainly Anne Goland was the primary “caretaker” must have a mental illness, but this was a 501c3 with a board. And surely there were other people who were on the property – this didn’t happen overnight. I think it’s important to identify some of the other issues as well, so no animal has to suffer as these.
Dean on your dying bed I hope the hospitals think the same about you.
Dean Householder you know nothing about horses obviously or you could never even mention slaughter in the same sentence with a horse. The slaughter of horse is beyond brutal and it cannot be done humanely. Go view some of the investigations out there – Animal Angels has excellent resources, then come back and speak intelligently.
The point is this woman allowed the inexcusable to happen and the horses suffer. I’ll bet she didn’t miss one meal or a night’s sleep over the suffering of theses horses. She should go to jail and be fined to the maximum amount.
Miss Huebner I would like to say Miss Goland was living in her Car (with a dead cat, naturally) so she wasn’t living in the greatest conditions. What she did is a disgusting, horrible thing, but I do believe she had nothing but the best intentions for those horses in her heart. She was in the middle of a divorce and given the condition of the horses in the first place, she ran a 20,000 dollar vet-bill, and went bankrupt. It wasn’t long before this incident that an event liken to this one happened at another one of her “Peaceable” farms. I wish articles would put more information on the many cats and dogs found dead or all but on her property. I do however, agree that Dean (in my opinion) knows next to nothing of horses.
TOUCHE’ Lynn. H , , obviously dean is a horse hater , any human being that advocates for slaughter , well so many do with their food choices at every meal every day ( hypocrites ) , , but any one that advocates for slaughter needs their heads examined for sociopathy (void of conscience ) , , it is amazing how many are walking around eating animals every day ( 3 meals a day) , all should be forced to visit a slaughterhouse, lets see if that changed their tune and their food choices . say NO to SLAUGHTER ( the holocaust of the animals ) is wrong , we should ” DO NO HARM ” to a cow, pig, chicken , turkey etc… they are no different then a horse , they are all sentient beings ( able to feel & are aware of their surroundings ) and non deserve the horror of the slaughter house . NON of them . its too bad so few humans have the ability to THINK and so many are void of a conscience , now here come the excuses , . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCla4k3DhgY.
Dean Householder are you mentally ill? Slaughter houses are NOT the answer.
I can not believe you used the word euthanasia in conjunction with slaughter house.
I cannot believe this woman is only charged with misdemeanors. Should be felony charges
how was this hidden from people for so long ? thank God for all the people who helped them , these “rescues” are are GIVEN MONEY TO HELP ANIMALS MUST BE CHECKED ON SOME HOW BY SOMEONE , I hear these stories including small animals also too often . THEY RECEIVE GRANTS & DONATIONS TO CARE FOR THESE ANIMALS – THIS IS HORRIFYING these poor poor helpless babies .
THE MENTALLY ILL WHO HAPPEN TO COME INTO POSSESSION OF A HORSE, WHICH GENERALLY RESULTS IN EVENTUAL NEGLECT, ABUSE, SUFFERING AND OFTEN DEATH CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS ANY MORE THAN THE ONES THAT COME TO POSSESS A FIREARM.
HORSES WILL STOP SUFFERING WHEN SLAUGHTER HOUSES ARE RE-OPENED AND FUNDING IS USED TO INSURE TRANSPORTATION TO AND EUTHANASIA AT THESE FACILITIES ARE CONDUCTED HUMANELY,
RESCUES CAN SUPPORT ONLY 10% OF THE UNWANTED POPULATION, AND WHILE WE APPLAUD THEIR EFFORTS, IT IS CRUEL AND INHUMANE FOR THE SANE AMONG US TO NOT HAVE AN APPROPRIATE OUTLET FOR THE REMAININ 90%.
I have to disagree with you! Horses will NEVER stop suffering if Slaughter Houses continue operation either domestically or in Mexico and Canada. Horses are injured before and during being transported, there is no way to insure their safety while being transported. In addition, I WOULD NEVER AGREE to RELY on a Slaughter House to Humanely Euthanaze horses, that’s exactly why we’re in the mess we are right now – ETHICS and HUMANITY do not COORELATE with SLAUGHTER.
There is NO OTHER OPTION to do the right thing for AMERICA’s HORSES, other than to HUMANELY take care of a horse’s end of life through an ETHICAL, LICENSED Veteranian Euthanizing them, and only if there is no other option for them, be it through Ethical rescue or other ethical non-profit organizations.
In this case, it seems there was no oversight of this facility, otherwise the horses would not have continued to decline so horribly. They did not transform into this condition overnight, it was a slow painfull process for them. Hopefully, she will be held accountable for a VERY LONG TIME!
God Bless those that stepped in!
Amen, Beverly! That’s so true, there’s nothing humane about slaughter. True, there were many people around her who saw this but let it happen. It was also reported to the authorities numerous times, and they did nothing.
Dean – kill 90% of homeless horses??? How is that “sane” or “humane”? There is NOTHING humane about horse slaughter.
another murdering sociopath who thinks slaughterhouses are the “solution” and this shit will end if we open slaughterhouses, GET YOURSELF SOME HELP , YOU ARE A SOCIOPATH , who elects BRUTAL TORTURE, ABUSE, MUTILATIG WHILE ALIVE , DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT OVER LIFE . these horses whernt going to any slaughterhouse you dam fool , the woman is a HORDER , they would do anything to make sure their “beloved” horses in their SICK minds dont go to a slaughterhouse . how the F is opening slaughterhouses a solution in YOUR SICK MIND ? do us a favor and stay off horse threads advocating slaughter , fool.
It is incomprehensible for something like this to go on for so long and with so many animals. She is a 501, what were the donations she received being used for if not to care for the horses? As in drug raids, her house and property should be confiscated as they were probable paid for with money that was donated to help the horses. I hope she gets the maximum allowed and not just a slap on the wrist. Let this be a lesson to anyone who wants to give an animal of any type to a rescue…CHECK THEM OUT BEFORE HAND. Ask for references, go and visit un-announced, make sure your animal will not be going to a place like this.
is there a web site or link so we can donate of help out?
Carrie–Check the FB pages of the legitimate rescues that are helping: Central Virginia Horse Rescue, Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary, Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue and New Beginnings Horse Rescue. If you go to the paragraph early in the article that starts with “As prosecutors prepared their case . . . ” you’ll find this list and if you hover, there are hot links to most of the rescues. At this point, they are looking primarily for monetary contributions to help with vet care. Thank you for asking. We adopted from CVHR two years ago and have been following them for about 5 years.
How did this abuse go on for this long without someone turning her in?? These horses did not get like this over night! This so called woman needs to be held accountable!
Yes, you are absolutely right, how is it possible that nobody reported her a long time ago, someone must have been going to the farm and realised what was happening! How could you turn a blind eye to such horror!?
Actually, she was reported multiple times by several local vets, the state vet, farriers, neighbors, as well as the deputies for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department visiting over the past year. Part of this story is also the fact that while Federal law says that animal abuse is a felony, State law is a pretty low bar for the maintenance of “livestock” (which horses are considered in Virginia). Orange County in specific has not chosen to have a law that requires a more stringent approach to this kind of situation. It is also worth noting that Orange has exactly TWO animal control officers for the entire county, which is massively rural. The whole thing is a clusterf*ck. As somebody who was there on the seizure day, and participated in the removal of the horses through my work as head trainer at the Equine Welfare Society, I feel like the issue can only be resolved through work at a legal level to improve our ability to respond to situations like this in the future….as sad as this one case is, it’s not unique and it will happen again. What can we do in the future?
Good post Kate. This happens all over the country and in OK there are counties known to me anyway that won’t even go out and investigate these calls and warnings and there are other counties that will drop anything and go when one of these calls come in. I worked in broadcasting for 30+ years and people would call us and I would turn right around and call whatever county it was in and usually when they would see the caller ID something would get done. I unfortunately can’t do that anymore since I don’t work now. My county has one spca investigator for horses and he was assigned eight counties, and don’t even bother calling the Sheriff’s department. Those lazy f*cks won’t come out at all unless the dying animal has pulled a gun and shot someone. Laws need to be enforced or changed. There needs to be people in these jobs that will follow through and instead they are layed off or there weren’t any to begin with. I’ve had horses for 45 years and I’ve seen these same things over and over again my entire life. What is so hard about getting it right? You should have to jump through hoops to have a 501c. I actually thought you did but I guess I was wrong.
Good lord, this is absolutely disgusting. There needs to be far more stringent requires and follow-ups for organizations that call themselves “rescues.” The ability to take in this many horses without proof of ability to care for them is absolutely outrageous.
She needs to be put up and starved and beaten!!! I have no mercy on people who are cruel to animals. Makes me sick.
Why the HELL were any animals left in her care? That makes NO sense at all.
My rage has me beyond words. The actions of this woman is inexcusable. She needs to spend time in prison for this. A long time!
Mad props for the all responsible horse owners community for stepping in and doing what needed to be done to help these animals in the near and long term.