Peach County farmer accused of starving horses

bpurser@macon.comFebruary 28, 2014 

A Peach County man was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty Friday after 18 starving horses were seized from his farm. Dead horses also were discovered in various stages of decay, said Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.

Vernon Crouch, 59, was being held at the Peach County jail on 16 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, with additional counts expected when the case goes before a grand jury, Deese said.

The surviving horses were taken into the custody of the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the joint seizure with the sheriff’s office, Deese said. All are expected to recover, he said.

On Feb. 20, the sheriff’s office received a complaint about two dead horses in the farm’s front pasture and also found 18 horses that appeared sickly. Some moldy hay was found in the pasture.

A veterinarian was called to test the horses to see if a disease had made them sick, and it was later determined they were not being fed, Deese said.

While authorities were waiting for test results, Crouch was given instructions to improve the health of each of the horses, and a veterinarian regularly checked on the horses, Deese said.

A subsequent trip Feb. 21 found another 10 horses in various states of decay in a back pasture.

“He was just dragging them down there and leaving them there,” Deese said.

Crouch told authorities he got overwhelmed and couldn’t keep up with the horses. But a state Department of Agriculture representative told Crouch he could have called the state agency or a rescue group rather than “just sit around and watch them starve,” Deese said.

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