Columbiana County: Charges filed in emu cruelty case

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SALEM, Ohio – A warrant was issued Dec. 7 for the arrest of John D. Whiting of New Wilmington, Pa., on two charges of animal cruelty after delivery of a livestock trailer full of emus that were dead, dying or in poor condition to a county flea market Nov. 30.

The second degree misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and $750 in fines.

The Columbiana County Sheriff continues to investigate.

On the scene. According to a report filed by Deputy Steve Walker, the trailer was filled with emus, “many of them being dead, and the live ones appearing to be in poor health with most of their feathers missing and bleeding from all over their bodies.”

The trailer contained 11 dead birds and 17 live birds, including two that were in shock, according to county humane officer Sue Davidson, who also arrived on the scene in Rogers after being contacted by someone at the sale who saw the birds’ condition.

There were also 21 birds inside the auction building that had been consigned and were awaiting sale, she said.

“There were close to 50 emus and they were mutilated,” Davidson said. “The ones that were inside were not in as bad shape, in a lesser stage of mutilation.”

The deputy’s report also noted Walker’s belief that “some of the animals had been dead for some time. No food or water could be found in the trailer, and the trailer’s floor condition led me and Davidson to believe the birds had been in the trailer for days.”

“Those that were down were being walked on by the others, and there was about 4 inches of feathers and skin on the trailer floor,” Davidson said.

There appeared to be no food in the birds’ crops, indicating that they may have not eaten in two or three days, according to the report.

Licensed. The trailer, bearing Maine registration to John Whiting, was towed to the sale by a pickup truck registered to Samuel and Marilyn Whiting, also of New Wilmington. John Whiting delivered the birds to the flea market.

Whiting stated that “he only had the birds in the trailer for three or four hours, and that he had purchased the birds for a cheap price because the previous owner wanted rid of the birds, then transported the birds to the auction,” according to the report.

Whiting, owner of New Wilmington Slaughterhouse, is licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a domestic animal dealer and hauler. Whiting also holds a license from the USDA for the “buying, selling, transporting or importing of any dead, dying, disabled or diseased cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, equines, poultry, or parts of the carcasses of any such animals or poultry that died otherwise than by slaughter.”

Whiting declined to comment on the incident.

The birds are currently in Davidson’s possession. Veterinary treatments to the birds included treatment for those in shock, antibiotics, and electrolytes.

Emu uses. Emus are members of the ratite family and are nearly 6 feet tall and weigh between 90 and 120 pounds at maturity. They are most widely known for the use of their unique oil, low-fat red meat, leather, feathers, toenails and eggs.

(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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