BCSO investigates animal cruelty case

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24 horses taken from property

By Tom Wilmoth

On Monday around 7:30 a.m., Bedford County Sheriff’s Animal Control deputies executed a search warrant at 304 Stewart St. in Bedford County, as part of an ongoing investigation involving animal cruelty.

    The search warrant specifically was looking into the deprivation of horses by Gary Chisom, the owner of the horses, according to Major Ricky Gardner of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. 

    On March 30, Chisom, 51, was arrested by a Bedford County Animal Control deputy and charged with animal cruelty. That charge is pending in Bedford County General District Court and is scheduled to be heard May 18.

    When the search warrant was executed Monday, 24 horses were found on the property, Gardner said. The horses are in the process of being removed and boarded by members of the United States Equine Rescue League. There will be a hearing in 10 days at which time the judge will determine whether or not to return the horses to the owner or turn them over to the county.

    “They will adopt the animals until the case is disposed of one way or another in court,” Gardner said of the help from the Rescue League. “They take care of them and board them.”

    He said volunteers with the organization came from all over Virginia as well as the Carolinas. “It’s good that there are people out there to take care of the animals,” he said.

    Also on Monday a state veterinarian was on site to give the horses a general physical examination to determine what help might be needed. He said the volunteers who took the animals will contact veterinarians to get them any needed treatment.

    Gardner said the charge and search warrant were a result of the horses allegedly not being given proper food, water and general care by Chisom. “It was a neglect situation,” he said.

    Gardner said the case started out several months ago as a zoning issue. Bedford County zoning allows for only one horse per fenced acre, but Gardner said Chisom allegedly had 24 horses on about an acre and a half of fenced property.

    He said animal control investigators have been monitoring the situation since the first of the year. “They’ve been checking pretty regularly,” he said.

    Gardner said Chisom had been promising to take care of the situation and the animals, but allegedly hadn’t.

    Further charges against Chisom are pending review by the Bedford County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Gardner said. “There are definitely going to be additional charges, we just don’t know how many and what they’re going to be,” he added.