Suspected of neglecting, shooting aging burro
Mendocino County organic farmer Guinness McFadden is charged with severely neglecting his aging burro, then shoot it multiple times while attempting to put it out of its misery. The burro’s hooves grew so long that it was forced to walk on its fetlocks. It also suffered from large tumors.
By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Monday, May 17, 2010
A well-known Mendocino County organic farmer and wine maker is facing trial on misdemeanor charges of animal neglect and cruelty. Guinness McFadden severely neglected his aging burro, then shot it multiple times while attempting to put it out of its misery, according to a report by Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy Christian Denton.
McFadden, an outspoken Potter Valley rancher who specializes in organic winegrapes, herbs, rice and cattle, declined to comment on the charges filed by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.
According to the Sheriff’s report, the burro had been neglected for years. Its hooves had been allowed to grow to more than a foot in length, causing them to spiral and bend at 90 degree angles, according to the report. The deformities forced the burro to walk on its fetlocks instead of its twisted hooves, photos of the animal show.
“The animal appeared to be in pain and had extreme trouble walking,” Denton states in the report. The burro also had an oozing, volley ball-sized tumor on its chest, according to the Sheriff’s report.
McFadden had been aware of the hoof problem since at least June 2007, when Animal Control officials first warned him to have the burro’s hooves trimmed, according to the Sheriff’s report.
He was again warned in early 2009, when the burro’s condition was reported to the Humane Society, according to Denton’s report. McFadden claimed he had a farrier trim the hooves, but the overgrown hooves would have required multiple treatments.
The burro also apparently suffered from laminitis, a hoof inflammation usually brought on by eating carbohydrate rich grass or clover, said county Veterinarian Robert Shugart. Untreated, the inflammation can result in abnormal hoof growth as the animal shifts its weight to its heel to lessen the pain, he said. Hooves can become as long and twisted as those of McFadden’s burro in about a year, Shugart said.
In the wild, burros don’t have access to rich grass, and their hooves are naturally worn down by hard, rocky ground. Their hooves may get longer as they age and become less mobile, but predators are likely to cut short their suffering, according to county Animal Control and Bureau of
Land Management officials.
“Typically, they won’t live that long,” said BLM spokesman Jeff Fontana. Wild burros’ typical life span is about 20 years, he said. McFadden’s burro was about 35 years old. By January of this year, its hooves had grown to almost 16 inches, according to the Sheriff’s report.
Appalled, Potter Valley PG&E power plant employees phoned the Sheriff’s Office, which oversees animal control enforcement. The burro was grazing on land adjacent to the power plant, which McFadden leases from PG&E for his cattle.
When he saw the burro’s condition, Denton told McFadden he needed to get the animal immediate care or put it down. He said he was surprised by the animal’s condition. “McFadden is well to do and raises cattle, among several other businesses, and could easily afford veterinary care for his animals,” Denton said.
McFadden told him he infrequently sees the burro, the last of four he adopted about 30 years ago through the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program. McFadden asked Denton to help him shoot the burro, but Denton was ordered to another assignment and had to leave, according to the report. He instructed McFadden to shoot the burro behind the ear.
A witness to the shooting said McFadden began shooting the burro with a pistol from a distance of about 30 feet. The first bullet skipped off the animal’s head, according to power plant manager T.K. Vaught. The second shot was into the animal’s neck, causing it to fall to the ground, she said. McFadden reportedly continued walking toward the animal while firing. The fifth and final shot he fired was at point blank range into the animal’s head, Vaught said. “It was awful,” she told Denton.
Three high-profile attorneys have been involved with McFadden’s defense. They include David Eyster, a candidate for district attorney on the June ballot; Keith Faulder, former assistant district attorney; and Ann Moorman, a candidate for judge. Eyster declined to comment on details of the case, but said he thought it was poorly hand
led. “I don’t think the right thing is being done,” he said.
Another Burro Suffers at the Hands of Man – Letters and emails needed!
June 26, 2010 by Crystal Ward, email@example.com
If you just read the disturbing article about the elderly burro who died with 16” long hooves and a huge tumor, you also understand this type of severe abuse didn’t happen overnight.
Two things come to mind. It’s interesting to note this well-off organic farmer didn’t seem it was important enough to call out a veterinarian or farrier for the suffering burro even though animal control was involved in 2007 and again in 2009. It’s also unfortunate that animal control didn’t do any follow-up visits on this case of neglect. WHY didn’t animal control return to see if the animal was being properly cared for after their initial visit? WHY didn’t animal control come out to cite the owner or seize the donkey when it was apparent the owner did not care for his burro?
Although most of us would dearly love to serve on the jury should this case end up in court (and we lived in Mendocino county), I doubt it will go that far. It appears that Guiness McFadden has already retained not one, but three high-profile attorneys in his defense. Mr. McFadden will likely come away with his wrist being lightly slapped and will be ordered to take better care of his livestock. Funny how he refused to spend a dime on his suffering burro, yet has unlimited funds to retain attorneys.
All too often, people still think it’s o.k. for burros (donkeys) to be turned loose on pastures 24/7. It is not! Burros are not horses, and they will founder in this situation. Historically burros come from desert environments. Burros have a different metabolism than horses or cattle. Some will founder within a few months, some take a few years, but over time, fat pads develop on burros and laminitis occurs. It’s difficult or quite often impossible to reverse the effects of laminitis. Burros need their dietary requirements closely monitored. The easy way out is to put them in a pasture and just walk away. Sooner or later, the burro will suffer from the neglectful owner, just as this burro did in Mendocino county. Burros, like horses, also need routine hoof care by a knowledgeable farrier. Proper veterinary care is imperative for any animal who suffers from tumors. Unfortunately for this burro in Mendocino county, it suffered needlessly at the hands of a neglectful owner for many, many years.
What can you do? We desperately need your letters! This case was initially supposed to start on June 21st. It has been postponed now until August 30th. There’s a good chance they will “settle” prior to a costly court case. I do not live in Mendocino county. If you receive this email and live in Mendocino county (northern California Coastline), I/we really need you to respond. As with any case, letters will hold more weight from the “locals”.
Please forward this letter/email to any newspaper, magazine, or animal owner who might spare the time to write letters. If we can inundate the following people with letters from all over the country to voice our support of prosecuting Mr. McFadden to the maximum penalty allowed by law, while at the same time requesting a full investigation as to why Animal Control failed to perform follow-up visits on this neglected burro. Two wrongs do not make a right, and unfortunately for this suffering burro, he led a very painful, agonizing life. Thank you in advance for your time and compassion. c.w.
Send your letters to the following;
Deputy District Attorney Katherine Houston
501 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 96482
Mendocino County Animal Control
George Hodgeson, Senior Animal Control Officer
298 Plant Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
Animal Control Sgt. Scott Poma
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
Journalist; Glenda Anderson, Press Democrat
215 West Standley St., Suite 4
Ukiah, CA 95482
Letters To The Editor
(200 words or less, leave your name, address & ph. number)
The Press Democrat
P.O. Box 569
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
cc; Crystal Ward
P.O. Box 246
Placerville, CA 95667