Two-day operation removes animals from farm
The owner of A&A Farms at Confidence said he wanted his place to be a sanctuary for unwanted animals. But something, somewhere, went wrong.
Officials from the Putnam County Animal Shelter and the sheriff’s department, with assistance from the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association, executed a search warrant last week on the farm’s owner, Mark Andy Santee. Workers spent the next two days rounding up more than 100 animals and taking them to shelters.
“When we arrived on the scene yesterday, when we served the search warrant, we found dead carcasses laying on the property,” said Jon Davis, Putnam County Chief Humane Officer, speaking on the second of the two days it took to round up all the animals. “We found animals living in feces, some with no food. Others had untreated injuries.”
The animals included six horses, two pigs, a goat, about 20 rabbits, a pregnant dog and a large number of poultry.
At the end of the second day, Putnam County Shelter worker Mike Baughman put the poultry count at 78 chickens, plus some turkeys. Also seized were some pheasants, ducks and a peacock.
A goat, “Rambo,” was the last animal loaded onto a trailer. While Rambo looked to be in good shape, the same could not be said for some of the others. The horses, in particular, were underweight.
“The two that were in the worst shape, the Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue took them. The horses we have here at the shelter are in a little bit better shape,” Davis said.
A sick, emaciated, pregnant coonhound was found on the property. She has since received treatment and has given birth to a litter of 12 puppies. Three were stillborn.
Santee said his intention was to help, not hurt. He told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he’s going through a divorce and has struggled in recent months to care for the animals. He started a GoFundMe campaign and received some donations but not enough to maintain the farm. Although he claimed A&A Farms was a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, it could not be found listed under that name on the state directory. He told the Gazette-Mail that he was going to file, but a pig ate his paperwork.
After being served with the warrant, Santee cooperated with shelter officials. “I’m thankful for their help,” he said. “We’ve agreed upon a list of the animals that we want to come back to the farm for the petting zoo and the children.”
It’s not clear at this point if Santee will get any of the animals back.
“The next step is that we will file a criminal complaint and have a warrant issued for the owner’s arrest,” said Davis.
At press time the Putnam County Animal Shelter was still reviewing the case, and the county prosecutor had not filed charges.
Baughman said Friday that people had dropped off donations of hay, horse feed and chicken feed to the shelter.
Davis went on social media to thank the community for its support. “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have shared supplies with us for the seized animals. It has helped tremendously,” he wrote.