Thursday, May 11, 2017

West Virginia: More than 100 neglected animals removed from farm; Mark Santee facing charges

WEST VIRGINIA -- More than 100 animals have been rescued from a West Virginia farm after complaints of suspected neglect and sightings of loose animals.
News outlets report the Putnam County Animal Shelter called in support to assist with the largest seizure in recent county history.

The shelter first got word of Andrew Santee’s alleged neglect from neighbors who complained that his horses kept getting loose and running down the road, according to Martin. Then, another person complained that Santee recently took a sick coonhound dog to the vet but refused to have it treated.

When humane officers arrived at the farm Tuesday, they found the same coonhound dog emaciated and giving birth to pups, Shafer said.

The animals were found in cramped and dirty quarters without adequate food at A&A Farms, a self-designated shelter (rescue).

Six animals were found dead.

They also found the bodies of two rabbits that appeared to have been burned in a bonfire pit, Shafer said.

“In a lot of the cases, there was no food, there was no water and the animals were dangerously emaciated,” Jessie Shafer, development director for the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association, said.

Shafer said that with so many animals, it was hard to keep track of how many of each kind were rescued. At her last count, she said, the count included more than 40 chickens, six horses, more than 20 rabbits, three turkeys, two pheasants, a peacock and a pregnant coonhound that was giving birth as the rescuers arrived at the farm.

Not all of the animals could be rounded up Tuesday, and shelter representatives planned to go back for the rest today.


“All of the animals are going to be transported to a safe location until the court proceedings are over,” she said. “It was a large farm — it was even large for us.”
The farm is run by Mark Andrew Santee (Andrew Santee, Andy Santee), who will be formally charged Wednesday with multiple counts of abuse and neglect, according to unnamed humane officials.

About seven months ago, Santee told the Gazette-Mail, God gave him a mission to save farm animals that weren’t wanted.
Santee disputes the claims of neglect, saying that he's spent around $90,000 to care for the animals while going through a divorce.

“Not one animal has ever been neglected,” Santee insisted.

He launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this year to raise $10,000 to support the farm. He has since raised more than $1,200.

On Santee’s public Facebook profile, he lists himself as president of A&A Farms, which he describes as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that rescues farm animals. No group with that name — nor any organization affiliated with Santee — appears on the secretary of state’s online directory of charitable groups.

He says he was going to register as a charity but a pig ate the paperwork.

They need to get the IRS involved and file a complaint. It is illegal - and a much more serious crime than animal cruelty - to falsely claim you are a non-profit and collect donations/cash.

As humane officers cleared out the final remaining chickens, Santee ignored a cellphone that didn’t seem to stop ringing. His boss, family and friends in the area kept calling him, but he never answered.

“There goes the water company, shutting off the water because I haven’t paid my bill,” Santee said. “That’s all right, I don’t have any more animals to water. I’ve already had my shower for the day.”

Santee wanted a cup of coffee, so he scooped some murky water out of a large bucket sitting in the barn to brew a cup. He was saving that water for the rabbits.

“And they’re getting ready to shut off the electric, but I don’t need electric,” he said. “I’ve got candles.”

(WeAreWVProud - April 24, 2017)