HANOVER COUNTY, Va. — The physician who owns a Hanover property where Animal Control officers found dozens of dead animals was ordered by a judge in May to never own livestock animals again in the Commonwealth. But Dr. Franklin Ewing appealed the case, allowing him to keep the animals until his pending court date in September.
Hanover County Animal Control discovered more than 23 dead livestock and numerous dead chickens at a property in the 6600 block of Mattawan Trail in Mechanicsville on Tuesday.
Officers and volunteers also dedicated 10 pigs, 7 goats, 4 sheep, 2 horses, 1 mule pony, 2 cows and 59 chickens.
Ewing has been charged on a number of occasions in Hanover, Caroline and Henrico Counties with inadequate care of an agriculture animal, livestock running at large, and cruelty to animals.
In the Hanover cruelty case, which is a felony charge, a jury found him not guilty.
Hanover County Animal Control said they received 160 calls since 2019 about the property.
A woman who lives nearby, but asked to remain anonymous, said it should not have taken three years to rescue the animals.
“Absolutely not,” she said.
She wrote an email to a member of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors in March of 2021 and told him she witnessed animals not being fed for long periods of time or watered properly.
She said she called Animal Control roughly 100 times herself.
“It was just a real sad situation,” she said. “They were just kind of left to their own devices.”
Hanover County spokeswoman Kerri O’Brien said they took every single complaint seriously and many of the calls from neighbors did not rise to the level of county action under the laws of Virginia.
O’Brien said livestock laws are unique.
Ewing’s son told Animal Control officers his dad is in the hospital currently, according to an incident report filed with the search warrant in Hanover County Circuit Court.
“I was just informed that my father has not been taking care of the animals here, and from what I see, it really doesn’t look like he’s taking care of them at all,” he said, according to the incident report.
Henrico County’s Animal Protection Unit also had to take action against Ewing in the past.
Ewing leased property in that county where officers said he kept five horses.
In July of 2020, officers found several horses with questionable conditions and ordered Ewing to have them evaluated by a vet.
Ewing failed to do so and evaded officers.
When officers finally made contact with him he said he had no intention of providing vet care to the horses.
Officers charged him with animal cruelty, but the court convicted Ewing of two counts of inadequate care, which are misdemeanors.
He was fined $500.
This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email [email protected] to send a tip.