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‘It’s hard seeing this,’ Va. rescue groups nurse 55 abused animals back to health

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Posted at 7:16 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 19:16:04-05

BRUNSWICK, Va. -- Nineteen horses will be nursed back to health by a Virginia nonprofit agency, and there are others that will need help after police seized 40 horses and 15 dogs from a farm.  Law enforcement closed in on the farm of Robin Vince, in the 1400 block of West Courthouse Road in Nottoway.  Vince was convicted of animal cruelty in Nottoway in 2014.

Officials said it was the seizure of horses at the Charles City home of Vince’s daughter that led them to the Nottoway property. Vince’s daughter, Rhiannon Vitiello, also has prior animal cruelty convictions.

"It's always hard seeing this," said Cindy Smith, the head of Central Virgina Horse Rescue. "They are in varying stages of malnutrition or starvation."

There were four horses and one dog that were found dead on the property, and 40 horses and 15 dogs that will need to be nursed back to health.

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Saturday the horses were divided up among four rescue organizations, including the 19 going to Central Virginia Horse Rescue. It was a long 72 hours for the staff, who began treatment immediately.

"Clearly these horses aren't in good condition, clearly they're not taken care of and some of them are in pain," said Syd Curtis, who was helping bathe one of the horses.

It's not just malnutrition, the rescue group believes some sort of chemical was poured on the backs of most of the horses they have and they are bathing each one by hand because it is "causing their skin to be burnt and their hair to fall out," Smith said.  "It tears you up inside, and the only thing I think that saves us, is that we get to do something about it," she added.

No criminal charges have been filed yet.  Nottoway Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry J. Royall said criminal charges will be filed once the investigation is completed, but first comes the civil phase. By law, they have 10 days to have a seizure hearing. After that, criminal charges are expected.

The condition of the horses will keep them  on a special diet for about a month, and many need medication.

The horse and dog rescue groups are all nonprofit organizations and need monetary donations, food donations such as hay, and volunteers to assist in the rehabilitation process for the animals removed from the Nottoway County property over the weekend.All of the dogs went to the Angels of Assisi.

If you would like to help, below are links to all four organizations: