City removes 44 horses from run-down stable

March 11, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore officials evacuated 44 horses from a rotting, dilapidated stable yesterday and condemned the property on the city's west side.

Animal control agents spent the morning leading a procession of ponies and work horses from the stalls at the two-story stable in the 1900 block of Retreat St.

The horses, most of which pull fruit and vegetable carts for vendors known as street "a-rabs," stamped as they were loaded into vans in the parking lot across the street. The city transported most of them to Mount Airy Days Inn Farm in Howard County. A half-dozen were sold, and some a-rabs found room for their horses at the few stables left in the city.

"This building is structurally bad, and it looks like it might go at any time," Earl C. Watson, the city's animal control chief, said as he toured the stable. "The horses here were healthy and well-kept. It's the building that's the problem."

Under the rotting rafters, pieces of old fruit carts and other abandoned equipment leaned against piles of hay and manure. The horses were tethered in narrow stalls directly beneath a cracked and partly collapsed roof.

The building was one of four stables inspected by the Bureau of Animal Control in the wake of the neglect of five ponies on the east side in January. Two of the ponies -- one of them found chained in a stall by its neck -- died. The other three were nursed back to health at the Potomac-based Maryland Horse Rescue Center.

Housing inspectors visited the Retreat Street stable Feb. 8 and found it "in dilapidated, deplorable condition," said Zack Germroth, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Community Development. The department warned the owner, Milton Brown, to begin repairs immediately to prevent the floor and roof from collapsing.

In the ensuing weeks, the owner made minor, mostly cosmetic repairs. The roof was covered with tar paper, but little else changed, Mr. Germroth said.

"With the wind and snow, it was just a roll of the dice in terms of entering the building," he said.

Some horse owners who came to rescue their animals yesterday complained that it was unfair to close the stable because of the problems at the east-side barn. "I've had her here over 10 years and never had a problem," Larry Brown said as he paused while brushing his mare.

Edward Chapman, who runs a small stable on Bruce Street, came over to see whether he could help. "It needs some fixing up," he said as he looked up at the rafters.

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