Rescue farm operators deny animal cruelty charges

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Lincoln County women are scheduled to be in Lincoln CountyJustice Court Wednesday to face charges of animal cruelty.

Jean Norton, 67, and Beverly Greenwood, 43, of 2274 MallalieuDr. S.E., Ruth, were charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animalsthat they keep at ChoctawRidge Farms Rescue. It is located onMallalieu Road in the Ruth community.

Norton and Greenwood rescue hoofed animals from kill-salesituations, as well as animals surrendered by individuals. Thecouple also have a menagerie of other animals, including cows,pigs, sheep and dogs – some personal, some not – on theproperty.

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Lincoln County Sheriff Wiley Calcote said complaints have beencoming in about Greenwood and Norton for the past year. Also,officials with the animal rescue league in Jackson have looked atthe facility, Calcote said.

“We’ve gone as far as the Sheriff’s Department can go,” Calcotesaid. “Its now up to the justice court.”

Calcote said the women have a good idea in helping rescue hoofedanimals, but he wants to make sure it is done in a humane way.

“They have a good thing in mind,” said Calcote, himself a horseenthusiast who is involved in rodeos and similar activities. “Butthere comes to a point in time to put an animal down.”

Several people in the area are concerned about what is going onat the farm, Calcote said.

“We’ve been investigating the matter for about a year,” hesaid.

The sheriff said some complaints have also surfaced about deadcarcasses laying in the pastures.

“This is when it becomes a liability to others,” said Calcote,indicating that neighbors were concerned about sickness anddiseases.

Greenwood said only three horses have died since they’ve been attheir current location. Each time, she said, a dozer was hired tocome in and bury the animal.

Greenwood said she keeps detailed records on all of her horsesand keeps them up to date on shots and wormings.

“All of our animals have up to date Coggins,” said Greenwood,referring to a state-mandated blood test.

Greenwood was aware of the complaints lodged against her. Sheindicated the complaints began shortly after she and Norton came toLincoln County.

Greenwood and Norton moved to the 11-acre site around two yearsago. The pair also rent pasture land for their animals.

While discussing caring for over 30 sick horses and the otheranimals, Greenwood admitted she had a hard time turning away ananimal.

“I can say ‘no’ to people, but I have a hard time saying ‘no’ toan animal,” Greenwood said.

Most of the horses rescued by Greenwood and Norton aremalnourished or injured when they take possession of them. Thewomen take the horses, rehabilitate them and offer them foradoption, which can turn into a long, drawn-out process.

Greenwood said when a horse starts to decline, it does so instages. First, it loses body fat; then muscle mass; and then itshair; and then its skin will begin to slough off.

She said the process then reverses when the horse begins torecover. That is why it takes a horse so long to begin to lookbetter, she said.

The women receive no special funding or grants to assist withthe care of the horses. They rely strictly on their incomes, whichinclude Social Security and disability.

“We go through a ton and half of feed in six days and five toseven round bales of hay a week,” Greenwood said.

The pair estimate they have spent about $45,000 on feed in thepast two years.

Norton and Greenwood were adamant about being innocent of thecharges being brought against them.

“The charges just aren’t true,” Norton said.