Kentucky Boarding Operation Owner Wanted On 13 Counts Of Animal Cruelty Related To Neglect Case

A Kentucky boarding operations owner is the subject of a criminal complaint in Bourbon County, Ky., alleging 13 counts of animal cruelty in the second degree after horses in his care were found starving. Xavier McGrapth has not yet been arrested on the charges, which arose out of a neglect investigation by county and state officials that began in late March.

Animal cruelty in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky.

Around two dozen horses were discovered at a property McGrapth was leasing; half of those horses were determined by a veterinarian to be neglected.

McGrapth advertised his services on Facebook under business names McGrapth Breaking and Training and Whispering Creek Thoroughbreds, offering breaking and training for young horses and broodmare board. McGrapth ran those operations out of a property owned by longtime Central Kentucky horseman Steve Johnson.

The Bourbon County Sheriff’s Department released the following statement to media about the case earlier this week:

“On the afternoon of March 19, 2021, the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of equine welfare at a farm on Brentsville Road here in Bourbon County. Deputies responded to the scene and immediately started an investigation into the welfare of the equine[s] present. The Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office has received support from The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, who assisted us with locating and contacting owners and started the process of relocating horses to a safe environment for care and treatment. They are also assisting with the investigation and have sent an investigator to work closely with us throughout this case.

“As of now all the horses have been identified and the process of relocating them to various locations is coming to an end. The Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office has identified a suspect in the case and a criminal complaint has been issued. This investigation is still ongoing, and all authorities involved are actively working together to bring this to a close.”

Johnson said that he had rented the barn and surrounding paddocks to McGrapth last year after vetting McGrapth’s references, and had no issues until November when McGrapth fell behind on his rental payments. At least one of McGrapth’s clients, many of whom are based out-of-state, was satisfied with his care of broodmares for the 2020 foaling season and sent him horses again this year.

On March 19, locally-based client Alyssa Evans visited McGrapth’s operation to check on her pregnant mare and discovered two dead horses in a field near the barn. Additional checks revealed other horses in poor body condition. Evans removed her mare from the property and contacted law enforcement and Johnson. Johnson said the barn McGrapth leased was at the back of his property and the horses visible in the front of the parcel looked a little light but were not in bad shape. Johnson urged McGrapth to provide them more feed and said he hadn’t seen the horses that were being kept in the back of the barn until around the time Evans contacted him.

“It was his business, and I will tell you I did not go back and monitor his operation, primarily because it was his operation and I didn’t consider that to be my responsibility,” said Johnson. “I tried to help him out. I gave him hay.

“It took me three days to get the barns cleaned properly. Why people will do this, I really don’t know.”

Johnson said he hasn’t been able to reach McGrapth or seen him on the property in six weeks, during which time he fed the abandoned horses until officials could verify ownership and supervise their removal. He also said McGrapth told him he had client horses at other facilities but does not know how many or where they may be.

McGrapth’s clients, many of whom say they had no written contract with him, were attracted to him in part because of his competitive board rate. Now, several of them are questioning whether their horses will recover from the neglect they suffered in his care.

One pregnant mare, sold by McGrapth for a client, lost significant weight in the two weeks she was in McGrapth’s care. By the time her purchaser picked her up at another facility, veterinarians determined her overall health was “extremely poor” and questioned whether she would be able to survive foaling or nurse a foal if she did survive.

Amanda Scarsella said she sent McGrapth six horses – five young horses in training and one mare by Uncle Mo named Fresh Face, whose fate is still unclear. All five are recovering from various levels of starvation, significant skin disease, and lice infestations. Three of them are expected to improve enough to make it to the track; the other two – both colts from the only crop of Effinex – will have a much longer road to recovery and Scarsella said while she’s hopeful for their futures, their careers may be over before they’d begun.

“I’ve been trying to stay up to date through the other owners, the sheriff and those who helped rescue them. With that being said it’s been draining in every way,” said Scarsella, who is based in New York. “Ultimately I feel responsible because they are like my kids. I try to compartmentalize the Kentucky ordeal to deal with it as I can when needed so I can concentrate on running my farm here and foaling mares at night. I’m mostly a one woman show so it’s quite a challenge but I’m managing.”

The post Kentucky Boarding Operation Owner Wanted On 13 Counts Of Animal Cruelty Related To Neglect Case appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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