The central Virginia horse community is responding to the urgent need for assistance for dozens of emaciated horses. It comes after 81 horses, 28 cats and 7 dogs were removed from Anne Shumate Goland’s farm over the last three days.
The Orange County Sheriff’s office served a search warrant at Goland’s Peaceable Farm on Monday. The agency was contacted in early October regarding the poor physical condition of several horses on the farm, according to documents.
“that has been abandoned, has been cruelly treated, or is suffering from an apparent violation of this chapter that has rendered the animal in such a condition as to constitute a direct and immediate threat to its life, safety or health.”
“Something failed in our system. A lot [of horses] died and a lot are suffering. I don’t understand how it got this way,” says volunteer Raleigh Minor. “It’s a pretty devastating thing.”
Deputies found seven dead horses on the property. Area hunter/jumper professional Clara Del Grande says the horses had no hay or water. “It was pretty horrifying, seeing animals that died in agony.”
The farm, established as a horse rescue, resembled an animal concentration camp. Amid the smell of death, Grande says she saw dead cats, horses decomposing, and horses with their skin draped over little more than bones. “One horse had its eyes bashed out of its head and blood all over the wall. It’s one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen.”
Another five horses were euthanized due to their failing condition. The number of dead small animals has not been confirmed by officials.
Goland surrendered 71 horses and chose 35 horses she wanted to keep. Upon further review late Wednesday, a veterinarian determined that 10 of Goland’s selected horses needed immediate veterinary care. Deputies say Goland refused to surrender the 10 horses, so officials seized them.
The 81 horses are at horse rescues tasked with trying to rehabilitate the equines. Cindy Smith of Central Virginia Horse Rescue says her organization took in 10 horses. “It has been a cooperative effort. The response we’ve had from the Virginia horse community has been great.”
Smith says this type of situation happens way too often in Virginia. “We need to have better training and better investigative techniques to prosecute these cases.”
Operating as a horse rescue since 2011, Goland collected over $1.1 million in 2013 through Peaceable Farm, Inc., a 501(c)(3). Goland is the president, her ex-husband, Anthony Goland, who is employed by McKinsey & Company, is listed as the former secretary/treasurer. He did not respond when we tried to reach him by email. The rescue’s directors include Nevin Carr and Donald Puglisi.
Peaceable’s expenses in 2013 for the horse rescue were $1,190,840. The rescue brought in $1,127,823, according to the Form 990, filed in November 2014. Veterinarian fees are listed at $205,138, supplies like hay, grain, and shavings totaled $410,301, boarding fees were $123,700, contract labor was $167,026, and other expenses were $219,320. That category includes the farrier and horse dentist, tack and supplies, horse hauling, supplies and expenses, utilities, barn equipment expenses, maintenance and cleaning.
“Wow, what we could do with $1 million a year,” Smith, who operates a horse rescue, says laughing during a quick break. She says she believes Goland is exhibiting typical hoarder behavior. “It starts as profound love and gets twisted.”
Smith says before contributing to a horse rescue do your research and get involved by volunteering.
Orange County’s Commonwealth Attorney Diana Wheeler tells Rate My Horse PRO that a criminal investigation is underway. They are waiting for veterinary reports on every horse, a painstaking process. Wheeler says they are also looking into allegations of fraud.
Goland is in possession of 18 horses, 2 donkeys, 1 bull and several cats. The majority of the horses that remain on the property are reportedly warmblood mares.
Horse professional Grande adds the sheriff’s department did an “amazing job helping with the horses”.
Authorities obtained additional search warrants to aid in the collection of evidence. Included were two storage lockers at an Albemarle County storage facility rented by Goland. Investigators were back on Goland’s property Friday after obtaining another search warrant for the property.
The sheriff’s office says it has received permission from Goland’s attorney to re-enter the property regularly to check the welfare of the animals in her possession.
No charges have been filed. The criminal investigation continues.