NEW INFO: Hundreds of Animals Seized; Couple Pleads Guilty

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UPDATE 6/13/11 @ 10:20 a.m.
RIPLEY, W.Va. (AP) -- A Jackson County couple facing more than 60 counts of animal cruelty have each pleaded guilty to two counts.

The Associated Press reports that 72-year-old Seth Maher and his 43-year-old wife Kimberly entered their pleas last week Jackson County Magistrate Court. The remaining counts were dismissed.

Each received a year's probation. The couple also must make restitution to the county animal shelter.

Authorities seized more than 200 animals from the couple's Lockhart Fork Home in May, including 72 fowl, 17 goats, two llamas and an alpaca.

Authorities say the animals had no food and were living in deplorable conditions.



ORIGINAL STORY 5/27/11
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A couple is in jail after nearly 300 animals were seized in and around a home in Jackson County in what police call one of the biggest animal cruelty cases ever.

Kimberly and Seth Maher both were charged with 63 counts of animal cruelty and are in jail.

Jackson County Sheriff's deputies served the warrant Friday, finding dogs, cattle and farm animals underfed and living in filthy conditions.

"Deplorable conditions in this place, not only in the residence, but the animals around," Chief Deputy Tony Boggs said. "Deceased animals, burned animals, malnourished animals and just about every size, breed and kind were up there."

It all began with a complaint to the animal shelter that there were six starved horses on the property.

When the humane officer came to check it out, she found hundreds of other animals living in filthy conditions.

The malnourished horses led to the search and seizure at a place where the horses were nowhere to be found.

Chickens, turkeys and geese could be seen running in the mud among dead animals and without food.

There wasn't water for cattle, goats and rabbits by the dozens, but there was an overwhelming smell.

"Trying to knock on the front door we discovered a dead rabbit in a box at our feet," Boggs said. "It's horrible to see the folks that can treat animals this way -- no matter what the conditions, to be able to allow animals to die, to be starved."

Behind the home, a burning pile where police say dogs were dumped and burned to death.

Cages also were found with other animals including kittens, rats and feces found all over the inside of the home.

When one of the owners, Seth Maher, arrived home, he questioned deputies saying all of the animals were in good health.

Seth and his wife, Kimberly Maher have faced animal cruelty charges before, in the state of Virginia.

Those animal cruelty charges were later dismissed.

"You know we can't be letting animals be treated this way," Boggs said.

The Mahers are under arrest, accused of hoarding and abuse in a case of cruelty that could leave helpless animals on the losing end.

It's still unclear on an exact number of animals on the Maher's property. A humane officer will keep most of them on the property to feed and care for them, which will be at the owners' expense.

Members of local organizations in Jackson County are providing additional food and cleaning supplies to care for those animals.



 
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