Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Marsha Parkinson 150 neglected horses seized

Centreville, MD

Queen Annes County

April 28, 2011  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse

150 Arabian horses



A Maryland-based horse rescue is coming to the aid of over 150 malnourished and neglected horses, but they're going to need financial help to nurture each of the animals back to health.  Volunteers rounded up the animals, many of which are malnourished and in desperate need of care, at a stable in Centreville, Maryland. They are trucking the horses to farms across the region

Some of these horses are eating for the first time in days. They are already on the their way to recovery. They broke from a cramped trailer and galloped into an open field. While they are dirty, mangy and skinny, these horses are the aristocrats of the equine world. Expensive Arabians, some imported from Europe.

Farm owners are donating their acreage and staff to help the horses recover. Many horses have had little contact with humans, essentially they are wild. “I think they want help. I just think they don't know how to receive it yet,” said Elizabeth Tate Winters of Paradise Stables.

Winters opened her stables in Mount Airy to some of the animals. “I can, I have the space and I have the room,” she said. “But more importantly I feel very sorry for what's happened.”

Investigators found the Arabian horses at Canterbury Farms in Centreville, Md. “Every horse on the property is suffering from some level of lack of care,” said Stacey Segal of the HSUS.

The Days End Farm Horse Rescue is leading a multi-agency effort to rescue the horses. However, due to the size of the impound, they're forced to use private facilities throughout the state, which is costing them money they don't have.

"We are filled to capacity and our main farm can not house any more animals, especially with the number involved in this case." stated Dan Zalewski, Development Director for Days End Farm. Just the first month of care is expected to cost about $2,500 per horse.

Animal services officers said they have been watching the farm for months. They say the owner moved her breeding operation to the Eastern Shore about 10 years ago from California and has been trying to get by with only one farmhand to help. The owner, Marsha Parkinson, has charges pending, according to animal control services.  “The horse market has fallen on hard times. Just like the rest of economy and we have a situation where someone could not afford the upkeep,” said MacGlashan.

Zalewski says that the Humane Society of the United States, American Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have assisted in the rescue operation. However, Days End Farm is looking at bills surpassing $1 million just for this rescue alone.

More, than a dozen of the sickest horses were removed for treatment. Several were deemed beyond hope and euthanized. Crews from Days End Farm Horse Rescue and the Humane Society are rounding up and assessing the rest.

As many as 130 horses will be placed on foster farms across the region. The hope is they'll be nursed back to health and adopted.

For now, those who came to the rescue are enjoying the sight of horses grazing and playing. “Seeing these roll is an amazing thing to know they are going to be great,” said Marci d’Alessio, a board member of the rescue group.

Days End Farm is accepting tax-deductible donations to help support their rescue operation. You can purchase horse care packages through their website, or you can send donations to:
Days End Horse Farm Rescue
ATTN: Arabian Emergency
P.O. Box 309
Lisbon, MD 21765

Individuals can also purchase new horse care packages through the Days End website www.defhr.org/. Days End Farm Horse Rescue is a 501(c)(3) organization (Federal ID # 52-1759077).

Update 5/1/11:  More than 130 Polish Arabian horses have been removed from the property of a major breeder in what is considered the biggest single horse impoundment in Maryland history.

  (Photo courtesy of Mike Buscher/HSUS - One of the rescued horses)

Days End Farm Horse Rescue's board member, Marci D'Alessio, talks about the rescue.

The animals were seized from Canterbury Farms, whose website described it as America's largest breeder of Polish Arabian Horses.

One rescue group estimates the feeding and rehabilitation of the horses now in its care could top $1 million in six months.

Rescue personnel said horses were found with assorted problems - under weight, suffering from parasite burdens, hoof infections, rain scald and overgrown hooves.

Six of seven horses seized last week were euthanized.

HSUS' organization's equine cruelty specialist, Stacy Segal, said the property was at one time a well-respected operation that imported horses from Poland and bred them for sale.

However, conditions had apparently deteriorated, and many of the animals on the property were now in poor shape.

As well as health issues with the animals, their living conditions were also unsafe, with fallen-down fences and stalls filled with rocks and accumulated manure.

"We found a number of foals and young horses on the 200-acre farm, showing that breeding has been ongoing," Wayne Pacelle of HSUS said.

On his blog, he wrote: "One horse, who should have had a long life ahead of her at the age of six, was dangerously underweight and plagued with parasites.

"While removing the horses from the property, rescuers discovered this suffering mare hidden under a tent. A veterinarian determined she was too far gone to be saved, and humanely euthanized her."

"After legal proceedings determine the custody of these animals, we hope they can be adopted into good homes."

The rescue got under way after the Maryland State's Attorney authorized the removal of all horses deemed by a veterinarian to have a body score of three or below.

The owner has 10 days to challenge the county's action in court.

The horses are being transported to several private stables for temporary shelter. All will be checked by a team of veterinarians and given any necessary immediate medical care.

The rescued horses are in the formal custody of Queen Anne's County and will be cared for by rescue groups until their owner formally surrenders ownership or successfully petitions a court to have her horses returned.

  (Photo courtesy of Days End Farm - another of the rescued horses, nicknamed "Jellybean")

Days End Farm said the rescue was so big that it is being forced to use private facilities throughout Maryland to house, treat, and rehabilitate the animals.

Thirteen critical care cases were being transported to a Days End Farm Horse Rescue Satellite facility outside of Hagerstown, in Maryland, with the remaining animals going to several private facilities that will be managed and monitored by the rescue group, which has been running for 22 years.

It said the measures were necessary because its main facility is filled to capacity as a result of the major impounds dating back to last year.  "We are filled to capacity and our main farm cannot house any more animals, especially with the number involved in this case," said Dan Zalewski, the group's development director.

  (Photo courtesy of Days End Farm - another one of the rescued)

The cost of caring for the horses was a concern for the group. He said the humane society will be assisting with some of the initial costs, and initial veterinary services are being offered by volunteer veterinarians.

However, additional money will be needed to complete their rehabilitation, evaluation and eventual adoption.  "An individual horse in this condition will cost close to $5000 for the initial six months, Zalewski said.

"These monies are in addition to the operational costs already attached to our main facility, where we currently have over 70 horses being treated and watched for not only their original aliments, but for also a mild strain of equine strep throat."

Another Days End spokesperson, Brooke Vrany, said overbreeding led to the neglect of many of the impounded horses. "Our breeders need to be held responsible."

Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA field investigations and response, said: "These horses have suffered greatly and the ASPCA is glad to be able to lend its assistance and get these animals the treatment and care they so desperately need."

Update 5/23/11:  All of the horses seized at Canterbury Farm in April have now been evaluated and scored at the shelters caring for them, Director Dave MacGlashan said

More than 100 horses scored a 3 or below on the Henneke body condition scoring chart, he said.

The Henneke Scoring System is a scientific method used to objectively evaluate a horse's body condition. The chart covers six areas: neck, withers, shoulder, ribs, loins and tailhead. Veterinarians consider a body score from 4 to 7 acceptable. A score of 5 is considered ideal. A score of 3 is considered thin; a score of 2 is very thin; and a score of 1 is considered poor or emaciated.

Despite their initial conditions, the horses are doing great, MacGlashan said.  "We're thrilled that the animals are thriving in the environment they're in now," he said.

All the horses are getting adequate food, veterinary care, dental care and hoof care, he added. "They needed so much right off the bat."

Fourteen of the horses are receiving critical care at a Days End Farm Horse Rescue facility in Hagerstown. Those horses were the ones in really bad shape, some so malnourished they couldn't be fed regular food to start with, he said.

MacGlashan said his officers had been monitoring conditions at the farm for a while. Animal Services first received a call about the farm in the summer of 2010. When officers went to the farm, the stalls had water and appropriate bedding and there appeared to be adequate food, MacGlashan said.

They went back in October 2010; at that time, officers saw some very thin brood mares. The owner said the mares were more than 30 years old, attributing their thinness to their age. There was food scattered around, and the owner produced a letter from a veterinarian saying the horses were under her care, MacGlashan said.

"Maybe things weren't optimal, but we weren't ignoring the situation," he said.

The next time Animal Control officers went out was March 18. The owner willingly took Officer Dawn James through the barns, showing her all the horses; what James saw caused Animal Services to launch an immediate, full-scale investigation, MacGlashan said.

When he realized the scope of what was needed, MacGlashan contacted Days End and HSUS for help.

A team went to the farm April 15 to inspect the horses. That day, they removed seven horses determined to be in the poorest conditions and had to humanely euthanize another, MacGlashan said. The owner signed over custody of the seven horses removed.

They returned to the farm April 17 and put down five more horses, all older brood mares, he said.

In the largest seizure of horses in state history, officers and volunteers returned April 29 and 30 to the farm on Melfield Lane, removing the remaining 133 horses.

HSUS and the ASPCA have pledged funding to return these horses to health.

"This is a most generous pledge of support by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This pledge alleviates additional financial strain upon Queen Anne's County, which is already working to balance an upcoming 2012 deficit budget," said County Administrator Gregg Todd in a statement.

"I would like to commend Director MacGlashan and his staff for realizing the magnitude of this situation and for reaching out to the HSUS and Days End Farm Horse Rescue for their assistance," Todd said. "Most importantly, Director MacGlashan and his staff, in conjunction with national and state associations, were able to rescue the horses and save the county from incurring a debt that may reach several hundreds of thousands of dollars."


Pictures of the horses now at Gentle Giants Farm



Days End Farm Horse Rescue Horsetalk