The farm is owned and operated by 77-year-old Clara Collier and her two adult sons. Authorities have been in contact with them, but they are not at liberty to discuss the conversation at this time.
Deputies with the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) are working with veterinarians and volunteers to try and save around 500 animals found in the property.
Animal cruelty and neglect charges are pending.
The sheriff’s office said it responded to call for runaway goats along West Old Mountain Road early Wednesday, November 29.
According to a post on the LCSO’s Facebook page:
“An Animal Control Officer (ACO) was dispatched to that location and when they went to put the animals back in, located several more animals that were in distress and some that were deceased. A veterinarian responded and suggested that some of the animals would have to be euthanized.”
Goats, horses, emus, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, peacock, ducks and cats are some of the animals being rescued from what authorities thought was an abandoned property.
Cages were piled high with hay, drinking water was black, and some animals were found dead in a trash can.
"If you look on the hood of the car you'll see a white swan, turkey, and another bird [dead animals]. That's part of what was found out here," said LCSO Deputy Chief Major Donald Lowe as he went around the property. "Chicken poop, old straw, everything. This cage hasn't been cleaned out in so long that it's actually filled up half its capacity with its own waste."
Investigators said Thursday, November 30, that some animals were still trapped inside different parts of the property.
The main trailer, where the homeowner used to live, was so toxic inside that investigators had to wear respirators to enter the building.
“It’s a typical hoarder, where there's a complete mess everywhere. You have to watch where you're walking and what you're touching, and you'll see animals in desperate need of help," Lowe said.
DAUGHTER MAKES EXCUSES FOR MOTHER
The property owner's daughter, Amanda Collier, said her mother gives the animals the best care she can: "She does everything that she can for these animals. She works two jobs and tries to sell all the good animals, like the breeding animals. She sells the babies to make this farm self-sufficient so that she can give them everything that she can," she said.
Family members agree that their mother was a hoarder, but always had good intentions.
"She sees everything as it has a use. She may not be able to clean all the time, because she used to work four jobs when I was in high school to take care of us all, and now she dropped it down to two jobs because she's an elderly caregiver," said Collier.
“There were a lot of animals here, but we had no idea that there were a bunch of neglected animals or that there were like 500 animals," said neighbor Keenan Dakota.
Collier believes authorities are painting the wrong picture of her mother: "She comes home, feeds her animals, plays with them. That's her therapy. That's all that she has out of her whole life is this farm right here."
Deputies are not letting the family onto the property, and said their first priority is the safety of the animals.
"Each animal is going to be looked at and checked out by the vet. If the vet says that the animal is healthy and everything, we'll try to find a temporary home for them through some of these agencies that we work with. If it says it needs to stay at the hospital, then that's where that animal will go," said Lowe.
Some of the rescued animals are being housed at a temporary shelter at the Louisa Fireman's Fairgrounds until more suitable arrangements can be found. Animals in critical condition are being taken to a state veterinarian for care.
Investigators expect to be on the scene well into Thursday night, and have expanded their search to other parts of the farm.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said volunteers are needed to help assist in the care of the animals: contact the Louisa Community Animal Response Team, the county animal shelter, or the Animal Control Office division of the sheriff's office.
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