UPDATE: More animals seized from Taylor County farm

Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 9:44 PM EDT
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UPDATE: 6/4/2019 2:50 p.m.

According to West Virginia State Police in Taylor County, more animals were seized from the farm. Police say 56 cows, 14 horses, 45 chickens, a sheep, goat, 12 dogs, and some cats were taken from the farm.

State Police say one of the horses had to be put down.

UPDATE: 05/16/2019

According to the West Virginia State Police in Taylor County warrants have been issued in connection to the Taylor County animal neglect case.

According to the criminal complaint, the farmland held at least 20 cases of horses that had lice, were underweight due to a lack of enough food and water, and/or were in need of dentistry, grooming and hoof care.

Many of the horses found had debris and matted hair in their tails that kept them from being able to swat flies.

Multiple animal rescue groups and veterinarian Dr. Clara Mason were also on scene to locate and examine numerous animals on the property, primarily cows and horses.

The criminal complaint says that upon arrival Dr. Mason found a downed cow laying in deep mud and manure. The animal was unable to stand and had been in that position for over 2 week. After giving the cow 25 gallons of water, Dr. Mason tried to obtain a blood sample, but the cow’s skin would not even bleed from needle sticks. Due to multiple medical conditions Dr. Mason humanely euthanized the cow.

Warrants have been issued for charges of animal neglect against Marvin Austin and Grace Austin.


"You could see their ribs, you could see their hip bones,"

Lisa Sapp, a volunteer with horse rescue organization Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, recently took in three horses from a local farm after they were found in deplorable conditions.

"What I witnessed on the farm was..a very unkempt farm," Sapp said "there was a pile of trash as you entered the farm,"

"I walked through the barn, which had manure very deep, clear through," Sapp said of her observations while on the property.

Heart of Phoenix and two other out-of-state organizations worked to rescue 20 horses from a Taylor County property after a state police search warrant led to the discovery of emaciated animals along with carcasses of other dead animals.

Due to the conditions they were living in, many of the animals faced multiple health issues.

"The horses that I saw were thin," Sapp said "the ones that i got close to got lice, you could see the lice crawling on them,"

Sapp, who has horses of her own, says that once the animals reach this state it's hard to get them back to health.

"It takes a lot to get a horse up to weight when they're thin, they need good quality hay, they need fresh water- which i did not see,"

Heart of Phoenix is now asking for donations from the community to help nurse these animals.

Sapp says it's important to get this story out to the public because humans are the only voice these animals have.

"Because the animals do not have a voice, and we have got to speak for them,"

West Virginia State Police are currently leading an ongoing investigation into the farm- Heart of Phoenix and it's volunteers plan to stay with the case until they see justice served.