Cabell County. . .
What a disappointment some elected as officials to represent the people and law were yesterday.
I wish it wasn’t so, for the sake of what is right.
The sheriff in Cabell as said he will not allow us to help the county anymore.
He said it over and over at this meet as if he felt he is taking something from me. As if it was the county has been doing me a favor by taking our resource, knowledge, skill, equipment and time. . . for over a decade.
No, sir. It was I that did you and this county a favor, not the other way around.
Just like we did here on site in a 20 horse case in 2020:
I imagine many people, if they were me, given the Emmons Apartment Fire that took my 2 little brothers and sister in 2007 here. . .the handling and horror of it all, would never have tried to volunteer years of life here in the aftermath.
But I have, in the face of the loss and sadness, created an organization that has helped this county with more horse neglect cases than I can count in the last 10+ years, as well as livestock cases or issues with accidents on the interstate involving them.
Today makes those years feel almost wasted and certainly thankless here. I’m trying to remember all the horses saved before the steps back taken by the county now. Those horses mattered. They would have all perished without us. Thank Goodness poor leadership didn’t step in sooner and create the mess we have before us now.
Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, was created, in part, because of the tragedy of my past and so much human loss that happened here, and as a result, we have aided the same county with hundreds of thousands of dollars to save and rehab horses over and over again.
We have never asked or received payment for the equine care we give. And anyone in horses knows the thousands of dollars it takes to rehab a single horse. The animal’s adoption fee 1 to 3 years later is a drop in a bucket back into the non-profit organization.
But it’s about saving lives. And we have.
It is worth noting, I receive no salary from HOP. I do what I do as a volunteer by my choice. Our financials have always been in compliance with Federal and State laws, transparent and have meet the high standards of various equine grant programs and accreditation.
This ASPCA video from 2019 actually interviews one of Cabell’s AC officers explaining how vital we have been to this county, and we are, and nothing said now can change it:
So yesterday, the Cabell County Commission and the Sheriff, during a public meeting, I spoke about a case in Milton, WV that involves 10 or more horses. We have received photos from, June 2021 through June 2022 showing the horses have been very thin for a year. I shared the situation candidly yesterday to encourage a deeper look into the circumstances. News of a foal dying, the continued decline of the horses, a denial to a vet for access to examine the horses, and an overall lack of regular action from animal control and the sheriff lead to my visit, and I hoped it would get help for the horses without more delay.
The case details are here: https://heartofphoenix.org/2022/06/22/horses-need-help-in-cabell-county-west-virginia/
The Commission, based on WV code, could have stepped in:
Series 61-31 – Livestock Care Standards: W. Va. Code R. § 61-31-3
Section 61-31-3 – Addressing complaints regarding inhumane treatment of livestock 3.1. The county sheriff, humane officer, county commission, or other designated county authority is responsible for investigating and taking any action in response to a complaint of inhumane treatment of animals or livestock.
I have never before needed to take such measures. This county has always dealt fairly and quickly in equine cases. However, there are factors we have discovered through social media were connections to those in charge may be why this case has not moved in the way all others always have, but that is no excuse for the delay.
During the meeting, the sheriff was extremely hostile, defensive, made unsubstantiated statements, and said that he would make sure HOP rescued no more horses in this county. He also, after I said the situation was a mess and full of deception and lies to the volunteer with me as I walked out, told me to “watch my mouth” (to which I said no) and threated that I “was done in this county,” whatever that means.
What does it me? Is he doing to have deputies harasses me? Is he going to try to hurt the organization we have based here? What does he mean? Will he pull me over because they know what I drive with my kids in the vehicle to scare them?
He cannot stop the rescue from proceeding. Cabell seizure cases are a small (but we found important) part of the work we do. The rescue proceeds as normal, regardless. He can decide to not accept our assistance on cases, but what does “You’re Done here” mean from him to me? (the audio is in the link at the bottom)
There is no other organization able to offer the county what we have, and certainly, no one to do it for free, as we have.
The only reasonable response from the county was an apology and an effort to follow the law, not practice the good ol boy system, and a thanks to us for being the advocates we have been for them would not have been unwelcome, either.
But instead, the sheriff tried to bully and threaten us, or me.
I am not scared. Last time I was scared in this county was outside that building when it burned down on 2007 on 3rd Ave, and that will be the last time it happens to me here.
Shame on a man for trying to intimidate me for being an advocate for the law and neglected beings.
I do think people should watch the video and audio of what took place.
Public officers and officials should not try to scare citizens into silence.
One Commissioner who sets on the Cabell Wayne Shelter board asked if we paid the people we seized horses from when they are charged with neglect or cruelty. . .seeming to imply the rescue makes money on starving horses and should pay owners for seized horses. Does that mean a person who starves horses haven’t committed a crime and should just get the animals back? How much value does a starved animal have? Should the shelter purchase the dogs and cats turned in there?
We never once turned them away when they asked for help. We gave preference to this county as a courtesy.
They don’t help us. We only helped them.
Before Heart of Phoenix was a large enough organization to stepped up immediately for each horse here, this video showed what happened without there from the start of seizure (July 4th 2012):
As sure as I am that those powers that be because of elections may try to bully and coerce me in this aftermath, I hope they know I did not start this organization to be quiet for those that need a voice when it matters.
We may not ever get help for those horses in this case, but God knows, we’ve tried.
In a county I’ve tried hard to be proud of (even though most people I know have never understood it), it sure left me no reason to be yesterday. Right now, all this county makes me think is destruction and sadness.
With all the overdoses, addictions, children in foster care, drug related shootings, poverty and economic challenges we face here, why would I be bullied for standing up for innocent animals in need, especially when we cover the costs for saving them?
What is the name of the sheriff? I will be happy to call and complain. I would be interested in knowing when he is up for re-election.
Cabell County Sheriff Zerkle
I see he was elected in 2016, for a 4 year term, then again for another 4 year term and can only be in that position for a total of 2 terms, so he won’t be there too much longer but I will certainly call to complain. Since I don’t live in that area, I probably won’t get much of a response, if any, but will try!