10/12/08 — Woman faces 77 counts of animal cruelty

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Woman faces 77 counts of animal cruelty

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 12, 2008 2:00 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A Grantham School Road woman charged with dozens of animal cruelty counts ran Texas Connection Transport, a company that advertised "Horses are our business ... our only business!"

Now, Texas Connection Transport owner Forrest K. "Kaye" Meadows, 56, is charged with 77 counts of animal cruelty, relating to dogs, cats and horses, court records show.

Ms. Meadows was arraigned Wednesday morning, and a trial date was set for Nov. 19, records show. Warrants were served on Ms. Meadows in early September.

Authorities allegedly found the business property abandoned and littered with dead animals and sub-standard living conditions, Wayne County Animal Control Director Justin Scally said.

About 20 horses under the care of Ms. Meadows and her partner were seized by Wayne County animal control in late January.

The horse transport business was not in operation when Scally and other investigators visited the site in early 2008 after a complaint was lodged.

Scally said the conditions at the site affected all animals on the Grantham School Road property, including dogs, "20-some horses," a number of cats and some dogs, Scally said.

Ms. Meadows was not on the property at the time of the Animal Control visit, and was reportedly in Texas, the animal control director said.

"They (the horses) were malnourished," Scally said. "There were a couple of deceased horses, there was a deceased cat, the cats were living in bad conditions inside the house, feces all over the floor, litter boxes completely overflowing."

Although Texas Connections was not a functioning business when Scally made the visit, at one time Ms. Meadows and associates "were transporting them (horses) to various locations throughout the United States."

One breeder, Dennis Zielke, from Sonoma, Calif., said he had direct knowledge of the poor conditions at Texas Connections Transport.

His filly, Coosirs Lucky Lady, is a full sister to a 2006 Buckskin World reserve world champion horse. Coosirs Lucky Lady stayed at the Grantham School Road stable for about a little more than four months, Zielke said.

On Jan. 31, Zielke got a call that "there was trouble in North Carolina," he said.

The filly was so malnourished that it was 600 pounds underweight, Zielke said.

"She had been neglected of food for months," the horse breeder said. "This is not something, like, 'Hey, you missed a meal or two.'"

Zielke transported the filly to Texas, where he tried to bring the filly back to health.

Although the filly miraculously survived -- vets in Texas said they were surprised the filly had made it that far -- Zielke said the horse could never be used for breeding.

"I actually gave her away," the breeder said. "So I lost close to $22,000, in vet bills, lost breeding and everything else. In short, Texas Connection almost killed her, and effectively did -- that filly has absolutely no value to me as a breeding filly anymore."

Brad Ferguson of Seagoville, Texas, volunteered to take care of the horse as she lives out the rest of her life, which Zielke said is expected to be much shorter than average.

Zielke said he found it hard to believe that Ms. Meadows' business still has an active Web site, complete with customer testimonials, feeding requirements and horse health suggestions.

Coosirs Lucky Lady, known as Lucky for short, will lead a lonely life because of her time at Texas Connection Transport, Zielke said.

Because of the diseases Lucky picked up during her months of alleged malnourishment and neglect, she is contagious and cannot be around other horses.

"She has good days and bad days," Zielke said. "Psycholog-ically, it's not good or her. Horses are social animals, and they really depend on horse-to-horse contact. She's not going to be able to have contact with other horses."