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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Ferrum man indicted on animal cruelty charges
Starving horse has gained 112 pounds
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Courtesy Photo: Chad, a 25-year-old Saddlebred, weighed only 796 pounds when he was seized from a wooded lot on Haw Patch Road in Ferrum on Nov. 22. The horse’s owner has been indicted on two cruelty charges.
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Monday, January 13, 2014

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

A Ferrum man was indicted last week on two counts of animal cruelty in connection with a starving horse.

Kerry Warren Hodges, 59, was indicted on one count of depriving an agricultural animal of feed and veterinary treatment and one count of depriving an animal of necessary food, drink, shelter or emergency veterinary treatment.

The horse, a 25-year-old male Saddlebred, was discovered on Nov. 22 in a wooded lot on Haw Patch Road, according to Capt. Marvin Woods with Franklin County Animal Control. The horse was emaciated and was straddling a large tree, eating briar leaves within his reach.

The horse was seized and transported to the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue in Hardy, where he was examined by Christopher Sumner, DVM.

Sumner scored the animal's condition as 1.5 out of nine, according to his report to animal control. The horse, named Chad at the rescue, weighed only 796 pounds, 300 pounds underweight.

"This degree of weight loss is life threatening and required immediate action," Sumner said.

Sumner determined cause of the horse's extreme weight loss was starvation, he said.

"All the dorsal vertebral bodies were visible, as well as the horse's ribs," Sumner said. "The muscle mass also appeared metabolized. The horse's manure contained bark and leaves, which is not normal and is also an indication of malnutrition."

Photos of the scene where the horse was found depict a lot that had recently been logged with no grass. There were three other horses in the same lot, Woods said. They appeared to be in good health and have been removed from the area since the one horse was seized.

During the past six weeks at the rescue, Chad has gained 112 pounds and now weighs 908 pounds, said Patricia Muncy, rescue founder.

The rescue needs help with special food for Chad, including bags of Legends Omega Plus, beet pulp and Legends Rice Bran Pellets, which can be found at any Southern States feed stores, Muncy said. He is also being feed Sentinal LS Feed, available at Holdrens Country Store in Vinton.

The rescue also accepts monetary donations, Muncy said.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is a determination by jurors that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.

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