Source: Sandusky Register
“I went ahead and I stopped, but when he went down the second time … he knows he’s supposed to keep up with me. I don’t have time to wait. I just dragged him back….”
A Fremont woman accused of using a farm tractor to drag a donkey has pleaded not guilty to 14 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Virginia Secrist, 76, admitted last month that she hitched her donkey to a tractor at her Napoleon Road farm and dragged him for nearly a mile after he fell down, said Kelley Askins, an animal cruelty investigator at the Sandusky County Humane Society. The donkey, Henry, suffered severe abrasions and flesh wounds, although he’s now recovering at a foster farm, Askins said.
A tipster alerted authorities to the July 26 incident, which happened on a long dirt road leading from a barn at Secrist’s property, Askins said.Authorities seized a total of 14 animals from the farm, including three horses; one sheep; four goats; and six donkeys. Secrist pleaded not guilty to the charges during an arraignment in Sandusky County District Court No. 2 in Woodville.
Askins said she first contacted Secrist in late June to encourage her to take better care of her animals, which appeared malnourished. “I’d been working with her on getting down on the number of animals she had, getting them cleaned up, and feeding them consistently,” Askins said. “She was doing fairly well.”
Askins said she even provided Secrist with some hay bales to feed one particularly malnourished horse. In fact, she ended up buying the horse from Secrist for $100.
And he’s doing beautifully,” Askins said.
In early July, Askins told Secrist she’d continue to check up on her and the animals. Half a dozen visits went by without any major problems.
Then came the tip that Henry the donkey suffered severe injuries.
Askins went to the farm to investigate on July 26.“As soon as I saw him, I knew he’d been dragged,” Askins said.She said Secrist then told her the donkey was “hooked up to the back of the tractor and he fell down.”
“She said, ‘I went ahead and I stopped, but when he went down the second time … he knows he’s supposed to keep up with me,’” Askins said. According to Askins, Secrist told her, “I don’t have time to wait. I just dragged him back.”
It was a grueling, mile-long journey for the fallen donkey.
“It was pretty awful,” Askins said, adding that the donkey was tethered to the tractor by its halter. “His face and shoulder took the brunt of the dragging,” Askins said. “She dragged him by his head.”
Henry ended up with a 3-inch hole in his head.
“I could see his skull that night,” Askins said. “He had road rash, really bad on the right shoulder, then on his ribs, then on his hip bone.” Askins took Henry and the other animals from the farm on July 27, and they’ve since been placed in foster farms.
Court officials have yet to schedule Secrist’s pre-trial.