Vet vows to appeal his case Sentencing due for cruelty to cows

May 25, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A veterinarian accused of mistreating two cows at his Mount Airy farm plans to appeal his Howard District Court conviction on two counts of animal cruelty.

Dr. Richard John Burroughs, 51, faces a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison plus fines of up to $1,000 for each count if his conviction is upheld.

Daniel Green, an Eldersburg attorney for Dr. Burroughs, said he believes his client's conviction by District Judge Louis Becker on May 18 was based only on circumstantial evidence.

"We feel the court was in error," Mr. Green said. "Clearly, we feel the court's decision was an injustice to Dr. Burroughs."

Mr. Green said he will take Dr. Burroughs' case to Howard Circuit Court after the veterinarian is sentenced in District Court.

Dr. Burroughs will be sentenced after the county Department of Parole and Probation prepares a report for the court. A sentencing date has not been set.

The cows, now in good health, are being kept at a private farm in Montgomery County by the county Animal Control Office, Animal Warden Timothy Grove said.

Dr. Burroughs was charged in January 1992 after a county animal control officer observed the cows -- an 11-year-old Jersey heifer and an 8-year-old Hereford heifer -- at Dr. Burroughs' farm.

The veterinarian was accused of failing to provide the cows with nutritious food, care, water, air, space, shelter and protection from the weather, according to court documents.

At last week's trial, Assistant State's Attorney Mary Murphy presented Judge Becker with photographs and a videotape detailing the condition of the cows and the paddock where they were kept in the 18100 block of Penn Shop Road.

Ms. Murphy also gave the judge letters from two veterinarians from the Lewis Veterinary Hospital in Columbia who examined the cows.

Dr. James Lewis noted in his letter that both cows appeared to be in poor condition.

The cows were attached to long ropes that were entangled in roots and stumps in the paddock, Dr. Lewis said. The entangled lines may have prevented one of the cows from reaching food at the paddock.

Dr. Lewis said the cows had adequate hay and shelter, but he saw no water provided for them when he visited Dr. Burroughs' farm in January 1992. He said the animals, which need at least 2 1/2 gallons of water daily during the winter, were drinking from puddles in the paddock.

Mr. Green noted that Dr. Burroughs provided the cows with buckets of water, but the water had frozen.

Another veterinarian, Dr. Frederick Lewis, said in a letter that both cows were at least 250 pounds underweight.

"At first appearance, they were noticeably pot-bellied -- an indication of under-nourishment," he said.

The veterinarian noted that on closer examination he found that the cows' hides were tightly bound to their bones because they had no fat and little muscle.

But Dr. David Kronfeld of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg testified for Dr. Burroughs that the cows showed no signs of dehydration or malnutrition.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Filbert said the state's Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners may consider taking action against Dr. Burroughs after his sentencing.

The board can issue a warning, fines, and suspend or revoke the license of a veterinarian charged with animal cruelty, Mr. Filbert said.

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