Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Horse Cruelty In Copiah County Mississippi

Horse cruelty seems to be taking places all over the country these days. It seems more and more horses are being neglected and starved all over the country in what looks to be epidemic proportions.

Most folk who own horses have heard of the over 100 horses which were found malnourished, dying, or already dead on Jerry Earl’s property in Copiah County, Mississippi. 

While I see it as mass murder on the scale of some sadist who goes out of his way to torture animals, yes that my opinion on this, that owner is only facing misdemeanor charges. 

I believe that animal abuse, especially at this scale, demands real justice. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood should in call for a complete independent investigation. After all, this really is one of the worst cases of animal abuse in the state’s history.

It started on November 29th, 2014, when two people shopping for property went to a piece of property in Copiah County to take a look at a piece of acreage for sale. Upon their arrival, to their horror, the witnessed something that will most likely haunt them the rest of their lives. They immediately took pictures of the horses and reported what they found to local law enforcement.

It was a scene of appalling animal neglect and abuse. The scene was one of almost 180 horses, some dead and others struggling to stay alive. 

A deputy went out to the property and told the couple the sheriff’s department would handle it, telling them there was no need to fill out a report or sign an affidavit.

Yes, someone stumbles onto a crime scene and the local law enforcement says there is no need for a statement as to when they found it, what they found, what were they doing when they found it, or what they did after they found it. I guess in Copiah County that sort of thing is not out of the ordinary. 

According to local news reports, dead horses and weanlings were found dumped in piles, a bloody mare still alive was trapped in a feed trough and way too weak to get out, all owned by self-proclaimed "horse trader" Jerry Earls.

State Certified Veterinarian Angeliki Polles, DVM, pointed blame for the travesty to those who sold Earls the horses in the first place. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's true. As incredible as it sounds, she sounds like she is excusing Earls for the mass deaths and widespread maltreatment. 

"So they got this way before he had them, so that's where I think be the concern, not persecute him," said Dr. Angeliki Polles, DVM. She added that the horses were bought at auction.

So what, horses are bought at auctions all the time. A lot of very good horses are bought at auctions. Just because a horse was bought at an auction doesn't make that horse sick or bad.

In fact, I have a great deal more respect for someone who realizes that they cannot afford to feed their horse any longer and take it to an auction so that someone else can give a good home to a horse that needs one -- than I do someone who will allow a horse to starve to death.

And by the way, if we go with Dr Angeliki Polles reasoning, if that were the case, than what she is essentially saying is that every horse owner out there who has bought or rescued a sick of malnourished horse is not responsible for worming, vetting, feeding, or taking care of that horse all because "they got that way before" they acquired the horse.

Illogical to say the least, sad way of excusing neglect, sorry way to look at life. To think that Dr Polles may be making excuses, and giving Earles an "out", by saying that's not his fault that they were already sick when he got them, is pathetic.

Allow me to help and educate Angeliki Polles, DVM, a State of Mississippi Certified Veterinarian.

When a man or woman acquires a horse, a dog, any animal, even one meant to be raised as food, that person is responsible for that animal's health and welfare which means its care and feeding and medical needs. It also means nursing it back to health if you see it needs it when you first get it.

It does not matter if the horses, if all 180 of them, which in itself is impossible for all 180 to have been bought already sick, really were sick before he bought them -- Earls, as their owner, was responsible for the care and feeding of those animals.

Fifty-nine year old Jerry Earls, his picture above, supposedly leases the property and saying, "I ride a horse 7 days a week for a living. I can pin cattle, catch cattle, I work for the public."

What he left out is that he was also indicted in the past for stealing cattle. Yes, Earls was indicted and convicted of larceny of livestock in 2012. 

He actually admitted stealing a bull and 42 cows and calves. Now a bull and 42 cows and calves might not sound like a lot of money if you're from the city or a suburb, or watch old westerns, but that is a great deal of money being stolen from the ranchers who spent a great deal of their own money raising them for market.

I once knew a man who wanted to hang a man for stealing his prize breeder bull which cost him thousands of dollar all by himself. So yes, if Earls did in fact steal cattle -- then to my way of thinking, a cattle thief is not above letting horses go without feed and water and let die.

Forgetting about Earls and his responsibility in allowing those horses to die, and let's not even talk about the strange logic of Dr Polles, but let's talk about the place where this took place.

Remember, the couple who found the horses did not have to search them out to find them -- they simply walked over to a fence and looked out, and there they were.

Since these horses did not all die at once and starved to death over a long period of time, where were Earl's neighbors while this was going on? How couldn't anyone see what  was going on? Why didn't a local cop see it driving by? Why didn't someone call it in?

So, as the pictures about show, these animals were not starved to death in a barn as took place recently in another part of the country. No, these horses were out in the open.

I know that I am the first to say that I don't like busy-bodies who have their nose in the affairs of others. I know that I have written on our need for privacy. But looking at this, I am shocked that no one knew what was going on or didn't see this. The smell itself should have been enough to have alarms go off that something was wrong there.

When that couple found the scene and saw the miserably pour condition of those horse, the starvation, the dehydration, many with sores and the one horse stuck in a concrete feeder barely still alive, the dead horses all around, the horrible smell, they called the sheriff's office -- but the Copiah County Sheriff's office dismissed their report and initially did not want to respond to their find. 

It's true, the couple had to keep calling the Copiah County Sheriff's back a number of times before the Sheriff's decided to get someone out there. And yes, even after the sheriffs arrived, the couple contacted the Copiah County Animal Control -- not the deputies. 

The couple who discovered this reported that the owner of the horses, James Earls, came out once the sheriff showed up and his excuse was the horses came to him in worse condition. 

Remember what Angeliki Polles, DVM, said about how the horses were received by Earls already sick and malnourished, so that in itself relieved Earls of all of the fault for letting his horses die and starve? 

Well, it seems Dr Polles has company. It was reported that another Mississippi State Certified Veterinarian Dr Watson, from the Board of Animal Health, stated the horses conditions were poor when Earls "got" those animals.

Yes, it's true, State Veterinarian Dr Jim Watson said when Earls got the animals they were already in poor condition. Does that mean that Dr Watson is also excusing Earls for starving his horses?  

You decide. Dr Watson said, "We are confident that these animals did arrive in poor condition and I think that need to be looked at as well. I'm not trying to deny that these animals potentially needed more care than they were receiving,  Some are from sale barns, that were purchased. Others are animals that have been dropped off or left with him other he may have purchased from individuals.".

And yes, I can't help but ask if members of the Copiah County Sheriff's office, Dr Polle or Dr Watson knew Earls on a personal level? I'd also ask if they had any business dealings with Earls? Does it seem like someone was covering for Earls? 

On December 6th, 2014, misdemeanor charges were filed in this case charging Jerry Earls with 4 counts of misdemeanor cruelty, despite over 100 horses in inhumane and unhealthy condition and at least 20 dead horses.

This sort of thing makes me wonder if Earls has friends in the system? Four counts out of over 100 cases, and a couple of state vets who sound like they are trying to pass it off as not being Earls fault?

Yes, the Justice System is broken in that county!

No mater what is going on in Copiah County Mississippi, every horse owner, and certainly every Horse Rescue, in the nation understands that you are responsible for nursing horses back to health even if you got them like that -- you just don't let them die! 

An example of this took place in the middle of last month, November, when 23 horses kept in darkness and isolation, were found underfed and neglected at Skyland Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.

"The condition of the barns were horrible," said Jeanne Matos of the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society. "The stalls were chewed up. The animals were standing in several feet of manure. The smell of urine was overwhelming."

Jeanne Matos joined Woodstock police officers and volunteers to seize the animals at the farm. Police say they executed a search warrant several days earlier based on several anonymous tips. Yes, tips. And yes, those anonymous tips probably came from neighbors.

Ms Matos says on a 1-9 scale used by veterinarians to rank animal nourishment, Skyland's 23 Arabians ranked among the lowest. "They were ranging from about 1.5 to 3. So, very malnourished, rib bones, hip bones showing," said Ms Matos who also said the horses are being nursed back to health at an undisclosed shelter.

Imagine that, horses that are being rescued, acquire sick and malnourished, and are actually being nursed back to health. 

While this might seem strange to some folks, who seem to be making excuses for the abuse and neglect that James Earls showed the horses that he owned, the rest of the country knows it is proper and customary to nurse sick and malnourished horses back to health. It is the right thing to do.

Thank God that is not customary to let them die or starve, and then write it off as if to say "Oh they were that way when he go them. Not his fault!" 

As for the horses in Vermont, once they are healthy again, Ms Matos says the humane society hopes to help facilitate foster placements and full-time adoptions. She stated, "I think they are startled, but the prospect of them making full recoveries is very good." 

I tip my hat to Jeanne Matos and others who understand the agreement we make with animals: As an owner, we are responsible to feed and care for them. For their love, we return the love.

While my wife and I, like many others see owning horses as rewarding, even if rescuing a few more than we need to puts a strain on expenses. Shamefully, there are those people who see animals as things that don't need care or feed or compassion. 

And yes, there is a part of me that would love to lock them up and treat them the same way that they treat their animals. Even if for just a few days, I wish they would feel the hunger in the bellies and the thirst build with no relief in sight. 

How would they like it? They wouldn't. They would call it inhumane. Yes, if I treated them as they do their horses, they would quickly call me what they are, someone inhumane who lacks all compassion. 

People like them, those people without compassion for the animals they own, should not be allowed to own animals of any sort. But then again, the answer as to how to stop them from owning animals is beyond me. It seems there is no way to stop the neglect.

But, as my grandfather once said, "if someone cannot serve as a good example they may serve as a bad example."

In this case, if you have ever wondered how bad Horse Cruelty can get? Just look to Copiah County Mississippi for one of the worse cases of Horse Cruelty in American History. There you will also find a Justice System that does not work.

UPDATE: December 19th, 2014

A report out of Copiah County, Mississippi, says more criminal charges may be pending against Jerry Earls.

Earls is right now only being charged with 4 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in Copiah County.

Now the State Board of Animal Health is ready to slap him with 13 counts of failure to dispose of 13 dead horse on the property he leased out. The fine up to $1,000.00 on each count.

Three people staged a rally Friday in front of the Copiah County Sheriff's office, including Alisha Armstrong. She and her husband discovered the tragic situation on Dees Road.

Mrs Armstrong said, "What's being done here is unjust for the horses. We care about the horses and we want to make sure the horses are taken care of in a proper manner. And a just manner. The people that did this need to be to the fullest extent penalized for it."

Cindy Crane drove over from Carthage, she is a supporter of the Justice for Copiah County Horses group.

"We look bad around the country," said Ms Crane. "It's not just here. There might just be three of us here today, but there are thousands of people who are aware of what's going on in Mississippi and they are not happy about it and they support us all."

The state and county has said that initially Earls claimed the horses were his, but then changed his statement saying that someone else owned the horses.

Local News Station WLBT 3 confirmed, through both the State Veterinarian Board and the Copiah County Sheriff, that the owner of all but 8 horses is Mitch Stanley. 

According to federal court documents authorities, the Stanley family owns a commercial transport business and livestock feedlot business based in Arkansas and Louisiana. 

Dr Watson confirmed Stanley sent in 18 wheelers and loaded up his horses Thursday. Their ultimate destination remained unknown for a while.

After talking with Mrs Armstrong, I was advised that Stanley loaded up 50 head of them and they are now in Texas.

Of course as there no limits to the shitty actions of some folks, it should be noted that there were many people lined up and rescues as well to buy these horses -- but they were denied to do so out of spite!

Believe it or not, even the rescues that went to get some of them were denied to take any more after begging them to let them have them. 

State Veterinarian Dr Watson says Mitch Stanley paid Earls to buy feed and care for the animals. But Earls did not do that. According to Dr Watson, Earls allegedly pocketed the money instead of buying feed..

Justice for Copiah County Horses advocates believe the horses removed will eventually be sold and sent out of the country for slaughter.

Rescue organizations from in and out of state rescued what was left of the few remaining horses that survived on the property. Second Chance for Horses Facebook page posted photo's of some rescued animals that had injuries and others with ribs showing.

Horse rescue folks now report that at least a few of the horses suffering from the worst conditions and malnutrition are now in new homes -- to have a second chance at life.

I will try to keep my readers updated on this horrible situation.
Tom Correa


  1. And besides the horrible treatment those horse went through, to not bury any that died and leave them to rot is beyond despicable. :(

  2. This "sheriff" gave most of the horses back to the owner to be taken to slaughter! Mississippi is in the Dark Ages! Hard to believe things like this still happen. Such an injustice it's even hard for my mind to comprehend. Killers, hoarders, puppy mills you should flock to MS, the law supports you..............................

  3. Thank you Tom for this excellent account of this Mississippi horror story. There will never be enough justice served to compensate for the pain and suffering these horses endured.

  4. I am ashamed to say but this is my home state and this has brought more shame to it.For my state to allow this and to turn a blind eye just proves it is still a bunch of back woods people who get away with breaking the law.Mississippi is always ranked last and boy this sure does not help out this state in the least.It is time we the people of Mississippi stand up and not let this continue and to make laws that are stiffer penalties to dig this state out of the back woods hole it is in.This is a case of GREED and not caring for the welfare of an animal.There has been a lot of lies told by the people involved in this case and it is a shame.All those who owned those horses should be fined.My state makes me sick and ashame of it.

  5. Imagine the disease being transported across our country. Lord I just don't know how this man or any involved with him can sleep . There is a special place waiting for them in hell..
    This is why I hate people and keep my love and affection for my 4 legged family.
    Jim Hood is a bull dog. If you can get him involved with this he will rip a hole, Earl

  6. First I think Auction Sites should have better documentation of the origin of the horse and current age and medical condition. Second, scrap yards and recycle plants do a better job of identifying persons bringing in materials before they complete the transaction. In Ohio you have to show an ID and your picture is taken in case you were involved in case any of the materials were obtained by unlawful activity.

    Recently in Ohio two mares were bought from a private owner who wished that they could have a good home. The consensus is that these horses, because she advertised them as "free" were bound for Auction or went straight to a feed lot. These horses were not ill. Other reports around the U.S. are that healthy horses are being stolen and they end up at Auctions and Feed Lots. Transporters, Killbuyers, Horse Traders Feed Lots, etc. need better records of the horses obtained and better identification and/or licensing before they are able to purchase them. I have read reports that the health records, owner records, frequently are forged or falsified, and no actions to rectify or regulate this industry is in site. The Anti-Slaughter Bill (SAFE-Act) sits in Committee without action, some of the Sponsors and Co-Sponsors are no longer valid because of the recent Election. The Department of Agriculture has defined the horse as "livestock", yet most livestock, including cows, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, etc. that are raised for human consumption, require better records and when the live animal or processed meat is shipped the "Country of Origin" must be established. Horse meat is not regulated under the Country of Origin provision. The third concern is that horses receive many vaccines that livestock are not allowed to have because the concerns of certain toxins that are harmful if the animal is to be consumed by humans. Recently Mexican export or horse meat was banned by a major foreign country because of these very concerns.

    Last but not least, both the owner and the person the owner hired to care for the animals should be charged with the neglect and abuse of each and every horse that was present and subject to this neglect and abuse. Have a trial court decide who is at fault and should be held accountable for this enormous case of animal neglect and abuse. Allowing the horses to be taken away to an unknown destination of an unknown fate to me is allowing this behavior to continue. I believe it is more of a case of allowing the owner to tamper with the evidence of abuse. All types of animals are raised for pets or human consumption. Regardless of what your intentions are for the animals when you acquire them you should be held accountable for proper care and nourishment. In my opinion, Factory Farms, Puppy Mills, Auction Sites, etc. all need to take proper care of the animals and the environment, or face criminal charges.

  7. I heard that the horses have strangles. So someone may want to keep an eye on the feed lots. Because the strangle is deadly.

  8. He got them in this condition? Sorry this sheriff doesnt know a horse from a cow. The sheriff or someone HAD to see this long before this couple found all these dead horses. Fire the damn sheriff, he is a no good for nothing POS. This will not go away,,

  9. What's with the censorship. Why did you not post my comment

    1. Annie, I checked and did not get any other comment from you. This is the only comment that I have received under your name. Send it again and I will post it. The only things I try not to post is swearing and threats and such.

      Best regards,
      Tom Correa / Editor

  10. Dear, Unknown, neither Tom nor I can answer your question without being honest in saying that we don't tolerate any swearing or threats here at The American Cowboy Chronicles. As for the story on the horses in Copiah County, Mississippi and their mistreatment, I find the article to be a sad, yet fascinating story. I plan on making a movie about Jerry Earls and his 2012 cattle rustling indictment called, "The Rustler". The trailer opens up with an officer running up to an elderly man, gun drawn, and yelling, "Get on the ground! Get on the ground now!" I, of course, will play the officer and, if I can get our friend Tom Correa to do it, he will play Jerry Earls. Jerry says in his narration. "I thought cattle rustling was old news. I thought wrong." The film takes place in Mississippi but will probably be filmed here in Florida. My character's name will be Elmo Weaver. Elmo's parents will be named Terrie and Spanky after MY parents and my dog, Jessie Mae, will also be featured. I will also write and direct the film and if you care to see it in theaters, you are more than welcome to. Wish me luck.


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