The chief health official in Prince George's County, under investigation for alleged animal neglect, called yesterday for a probe of the Anne Arundel animal control office after one of his confiscated horses became ill and was euthanized while in the agency's care.
Frederick J. Corder said his miniature horse Star developed acute diarrhea and rectal prolapse, a condition in which the colon turns inside out, while at the Anne Arundel animal management facility in Millersville.
Corder, a pediatrician who heads the Prince George's Health Department, said he was told by the attending veterinarian that the most likely causes of the illnesses were an overdose of pain medication, infection or diet changes. With Corder's consent, the horse was euthanized Tuesday, 19 days after arriving at the facility.
"They take my animals and say they're going to take better care of them, and this is what happens," Corder said yesterday.
Animal control officials declined to comment on the horse's illnesses yesterday.
Anne Arundel authorities began an investigation into Corder on June 9 after finding Star, another miniature horse and six dogs in what they described as various states of neglect on his rural Harwood property.
The horses had sores in their mouths from unfiled teeth and hooves that had grown to 14 inches, so long they curled upward and caused severe pain, animal control administrator Tahira Shane Thomas later said. Veterinarians say the hooves of miniature horses, typically about three inches long, grow about three inches each year. A horse's hooves might require trimming once a month or never, depending on the amount of land they are permitted to roam on.
The dogs, all Shar-Peis, were found in barn stalls that were layered in feces and urine, Thomas said. One of them had a severe skin infection and open scabs, but overall the dogs appeared to be well fed and cared for, Thomas said. Her main concern, she said, was their living conditions.
The animals were impounded and placed in the Millersville facility, where they underwent further tests and X-rays.
Among the charges authorities said they are considering against Corder are animal neglect and cruelty, said Anne Arundel County police Lt. Jonathan Church, who oversees the department's animal control section.
Animal neglect is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. The more serious charge of aggravated cruelty, which requires willful intent to harm or torture the animals, is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Corder disputed much of Thomas's assessment. He said the dogs were not in an unclean environment. He also said he had hired someone to care for the horses' hooves and believed they were being treated.
Corder said yesterday that he was deeply saddened by the loss of his pet horse, which had been in his care for more than 10 years. He said he wants his animals back before any further harm is done.
"At this point, I've had to turn this over to my attorney because I've got a death due to mistreatment," he said.