PA Woman Convicted of Cruelty to Two Horses
PA- District Justice Mess found Donna McGraff guilty on 2 counts
of cruelty to animals under PA Crimes Code, Title 18, Section 5511(c)
on August 27, 2002. On the first count involving 2 horses maintained
in unsanitary conditions, Judge Mess fined McGraff $200.00 plus
court costs. On the second count Judge Mess fined McGraff $700.00
and ordered forfeiture of the horse and full restitution in excess
of $900.00 to the Large Animal Protection Society, LAPS. The guilty
verdicts followed a 3-hour hearing on August 23, 2002 where 2 veterinarians,
a LAPS Humane Society Police Officer and several other witnesses
received a complaint from McGraffs landlord in June 2002 regarding
a chestnut Arabian mare named Penny and a bay mare named Blossom
that were being neglected. McGraffs landlord had attempted
since the horses arrival during the first week of May to get
McGraff to improve the conditions to no avail. On the day after
the horses arrival the landlord testified that there was,
No hay, grain or water buckets available.
She continued to return to check on the horses and continued to
leave notes indicating that the horses had no access to water. She
also observed that the stalls did not appear to have been cleaned
and there was no muck pile to indicate that the stalls had been
cleaned since the horses arrival a month earlier. The witness
also testified that she had never seen hay in front of the horses
and that she usually fed and watered the horses when she checked
on their condition.
witness for the Commonwealth with 20 years experience with horses
testified that she had,
seen horses in such poor condition. She also stated that in
speaking to McGraff, McGraff asked her to excuse the horses
condition, that they had not wintered well. The witness found the
comment unusual due to the fact that it was now early May and that
the past winter was not that hard.
LAPS Humane Society Police Officer seized the mare Penny after obtaining
a search warrant on June 17, 2002 after McGraff failed to comply
with the LAPS agent request to clean the stalls and schedule
an appointment with a veterinarian.
arrival at the LAPS facility, an equine veterinarian examined Penny.
She determined Penny was in poor body condition, scoring between
a 1 and a 2 on the Henneke Body Scoring Condition Chart, and that
she was between 5 to 10% dehydrated. In addition Penny was suffering
from a significant skin disease, was in need of dental care and
needed to be dewormed. The vet noted that Penny appeared, incredibly
vet testified she had again seen Penny on August 19, 2002 and the
mares body condition had improved to a 3.5 on the Henneke
Body Scoring Condition Chart. Her teeth had been floated, her muscle
tone was improved and her skin appeared to be healing.
defense was that she had provided necessary food, water and veterinary
care to the horses. The defense called Dr. Dennis Hoshall, DVM.
Hoshall testified that McGraff had called him on May 3, 2002 due
to the mare being very thin. He found the mare to be very, very
thin and suffering from rainrot. He recommended her teeth be done
and a change of feed to Equine Sr.
questioning by her defense attorney, McGraffs own vet, Dr.
Hoshall was shown pictures of Penny taken on June 17, 2002 the day
she was taken into custody by LAPS. He was asked to compare her
condition in the pictures, to the condition he observed in early
May 2002 when he had seen Penny. He stated he did not see a whole
lot of difference.
cross-examination he stated that the horse appeared very thin.
He testified that no follow-up visit had been scheduled.
took the stand in her own defense and testified that she had purchased
feed for the horses and had called a vet. She stated they worm the
horses themselves every 3 to 4 months. As for water, McGraff testified
that there was a 150 hose in front of the barn at all times.
She stated that she fed and watered the horses at 6AM and again
at 6PM. As for the conditions of the stalls she stated that they
give the stalls a good clean once a week and every
other day pick piles and that the reason the horses
stalls were dirty was because it was more difficult to keep
up with cleaning when horses in 24/7.
stated she has 4 to 5 years experience with horses and the old
horse people taught her at the facility that she kept Penny
and Blossom at before moving to Oley. She stated that she, continually
gave Penny and Blossom water.
testified that Penny had lost weight in a two-month period, but
she waited to call a vet until she moved to a safe place.
has thirty days to appeal the conviction.
5511. Cruelty to animals
Cruelty to animals.--A person commits a summary offense if he wantonly
or cruelly illtreats, overloads, beats, otherwise abuses any animal,
or neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care, whether
belonging to himself or otherwise, or abandons any animal, or deprives
any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary
care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect
the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body
heat and keep it dry. This subsection shall not apply to activity
undertaken in normal agricultural operation.