UPDATE 4/29/11 @ 8 p.m.
PRICHARD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- One year after 90 malnourished dogs, horses and mules were taken from his home in Prichard, Gary Belcher is in trouble again.
According to Wayne County Prosecutor Tom Plymale, Belcher was charged with two misdemeanors Thursday after seven dogs were taken from his home. Belcher was charged with fourth-offense cruelty to animals and violating an order that he was not to have dogs on his property for five years.
Anita Asbury at the Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter told WSAZ.com the dogs were underweight, and many of them had skin conditions. One seemed to have a large tumor on its neck.
The dogs are being taken to the vet Saturday morning to be checked out.
Belcher told WSAZ.com the dogs did not belong to him.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
After weeks of intense trauma care, the local adoptions are now underway.
John Cundiff and his family of Point Pleasant say when they went to a adopt new family members Truman, Jet, and Princess, they didn't pick the horses -- the horses picked them.
The recovering trio was among 21 formerly starving horses -- now with new adoptive homes. The Simone family of Point Pleasant offered the Cundiffs a barn and decent pasture on their Old Town farmland.
John Cundiff is slowly feeding the horses a special nutritious blend of food. He says coming from a barren dry dirt pasture, some of the animals didn't know how to eat from a feeding bowl. And, he says if they took off the weight slowly, you have to put it back on slowly; otherwise they'll get sick.
Those horses are the lucky ones. Early on, the rescuers hoped all the animals would survive, even though some were in bad shape. Sadly, three horses had to be humanely euthanized for health reasons.
After the massive rescue by the Humane Society of the United States, Gary Belcher, the former owner of the horses, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. He’s not allowed to own any animals for five years.
Twenty-two of the rescued donkeys mules and horses soon will be transported from the Mason County Fairgrounds to a special treatment farm in Maryland before they can be adopted.
Three of the horses with serious health and temperament issues will be taken to the Humane Society's Black Beauty Ranch in Texas where they will live out their lives.
Gary Belcher entered the plea Tuesday morning in Wayne County Magistrate Court.
Earlier this month, authorities seized nearly 50 emaciated horses, mules and donkeys, along with 42 neglected puppies and dogs from Belcher's farm in Prichard.
As part of the plea, Belcher agreed to give up all rights to those animals.
He was also fined $300 on each count, and ordered to not own any type of animal for five years.
If you would like information about adopting one of the rescued horses simply click here to email The Humane Society of the United States.
Sheriff’s deputies say the owner will likely face more cruelty charges.
The big question we're getting is “How do I adopt?” That process should start in a few weeks.
The animals were removed from Gary Belcher's Wayne County farm last week. They’re slowly recovering at the Mason County Fairgrounds where the TLC highlights include hay, oats, water and simple, gentle kindness.
U.S. Humane Society rescuers say some of the 49 horses, donkeys and mules seized were very near death.
Last week, Belcher told us the animals were new and skinny and he was fattening them up. Rescuers disagree, however, saying the horses’ horrible living conditions showed nothing but severe animal cruelty. They tell us the pasture was nothing but dirt. They had no access to any water or food. There was no evidence of any normal production of life.
Joining the Humane Society in the mission are volunteers from the United Animal Nations group that specializes in caring for recovering abused animals. They travel on a moment’s notice to rescue sites from around the country, answering an emotional call to help.
Rescuers say when the animals are healthy enough, and the litigation process gives the Humane Society transport rights, adoption will work through local organizations. They say they find groups that are pre-vetted and will set up reputable adoption centers.
The good news, in keeping a close eye on a few severe cases, rescuers say all the animals seem to be on the road to recovery.
Wayne County Sheriff's deputies say owner and horse trader Belcher likely will face at least two more animal cruelty charges. If he’s convicted of three, the law says he can not own livestock.
Wayne County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Baumgartner says more charges are likely.
Gary Belcher told television station WSAZ last week the horses were skinny when he got them, and he was trying to fatten them up.
But Baumgartner said Tuesday he's heard that claim several times over the years when he's investigated neighbors' complaints about starving animals.
Baumgartner says his department technically seized the horses about a month ago, but they had to stay put until the Humane Society could find a place to care for them.
Baumgartner checked periodically to ensure they had food and water.
The Humane Society of the United States participated in what officials are calling one of the largest animal seizes in the state of West Virginia Thursday morning, taking 40 to 50 horses from a man in Wayne County.
Gary Belcher is the owner of the horses, he says he did nothing wrong.
"They all eat good and I haven't had any problems with anything," Belcher said. He told WSAZ.com the horses were skinny when he got them. "Trying to fatten them up," Belcher said. "They've come a long way."
Neighbors said they do not believe that is the case. Joe Stanley lives nearby, he said he has been making calls on the state Belcher's animals for ten years.
"I've seen horses come in here as pretty as a picture and leave as skeletons," Kenneth Leslie told WSAZ.com. "I've watched backhoe after backhoe of them being burried."
Leslie said the horses were sometimes fed slices of bread and very rarely given water.
Adam Parascandola, Director of Animal Cruelty Issues, says he was made aware of the problem eight months ago and was finally able to coordinate with local law enforcement to solve the problem. Twenty-seven Humane Society employees took part in the animal seize.
Parascandola said it will be a four to six week process to bring the horses, which are malnourished and suffering various medical problems, back to health -- then they will find a good home for them.
The Humane Society said last month, nearly 50 dogs suffering from the same issues as the horses were taken from Belcher.
"The Humane Society of the United States is proud to be able to come to the aid of these animals. Our rescue came not a moment too soon for some of the especially sick horses,” said Summer Wyatt, West Virginia state director at The HSUS. "There's no excuse for starving or neglecting an animal. It is the responsibility of every horse owner to provide humane, responsible care for their horses at all stages of their life."
When rescuers arrived on the Prichard property, they found several Tennessee Walking Horses and Saddle horses, as well as mules and donkeys. Many of the animals were extremely emaciated and suffering from a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves, parasite infestation and untreated wounds.
Concerned local citizens shocked by the condition of the equines complained to the Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter and the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The sheriff's department called in The HSUS to act as the lead animal welfare organization in the case. The HSUS then called in United Animal Nations to provide sheltering support.
Rescuers are removing all of the horses, donkeys and mules from the property and transporting them to a temporary shelter. Once the horses reach the shelter they will be checked by a team of veterinarians and given any necessary immediate medical care. The horses will be cared for at the shelter by The HSUS and UAN until their custody is determined.
Horse owners who can no longer care for their horses have many humane options available to them:
+ Ashland, KY
+ Athens, OH
+ Beckley, WV
+ Charleston, WV
+ Clarksburg, WV
+ Clay, WV
+ Gallipolis, OH
+ Huntington, WV
+ Ironton, OH
+ Logan, WV
+ Morgantown, WV
+ Paintsville, KY
+ Parkersburg, WV
+ Pikeville, KY
+ Pomeroy, OH
+ Ripley, WV
+ Spencer, WV
+ Sutton, WV
+ Wayne, WV
+ Wheeling, WV
+ Williamson, WV