Groups probe horse deaths
Farm owners in York, Lancaster call police Groups probe horse deaths BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Correspondent, and JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
Horses at businesses run by the owner of a controversial West Hempfield Township stable recently were reported dead in York and Lancaster counties.
Four horse deaths were confirmed last week at Joseph Meyer's farm in Lower Windsor Township, York County, police Chief Tim Caldwell said.
Meanwhile, West Hempfield Township police Sgt. Jeffery Mullin said "there was a report taken" by officers concerning an incident at Allimax Farm, 786 Kames Hill Road.
"Supposedly, there was the death of a pony there," Mullin said.
The investigating West Hempfield officer was off duty Friday and it was unclear who contacted police about the pony. It was also unclear when police were contacted.
Caldwell said Meyer reported the deaths of the horses in Lower Windsor on March 22 by dialing 911.
The call was "the last contact we had with Meyer," Caldwell said Friday.
Meyer could not immediately be reached Friday. A recorded message at Allimax Farm said the person at that number was not accepting calls.
In 2010, the Humane League of Lancaster County accused Meyer of cruelty to animals in the death of an Allimax Farm mare.
A Lancaster County Court judge dismissed the charges in 2011, saying Meyer's "holistic" care of the horse did not qualify as cruelty.
Animal rights advocates said a laboratory is analyzing the cause of the recent deaths.
The York County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been investigating the case for about a week, according to executive director Melissa Smith.
"There are four confirmed deceased horses, potentially several more," Smith said in a phone message.
"We are lacking in information we need," she added. "We are awaiting results ... from the necropsy."
Douglass Newbold, president of the Large Animal Protection Society, West Grove, said a LAPS agent is investigating the Lancaster County "case."
Caldwell said that agricultural animals routinely die and stressed that police have not accused anyone of wrongdoing.
The dead York County horses were observed covered up in a field and were properly disposed of by Meyer, according to Caldwell.
In recent months, Meyer was involved in a long-running West Hempfield Township zoning case in which he sought to expand Allimax Farm, which is on leased land.
Last month, township zoning officials approved additional parking and agreed to allow Allimax Farm to conduct indoor events after dusk.
But Meyer lost appeals of various zoning violations, including the boarding of horses beyond the number permitted by a 2008 zoning decision.