Veterinarian disputes mistreatment charges

June 16, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Mount Airy veterinarian went to Howard Circuit Court yesterday to dispute criminal charges that he mistreated two cows at his farm in January 1992.

Richard John Burroughs, 51, is on trial for two counts of animal cruelty, offenses that give him up to 90 days in prison and $1,000 in fines if he is convicted.

Dr. Burroughs was given probation, 350 hours of community service and fined $500 after he was convicted of the charges in Howard District Court in May 1993. He then appealed the conviction to Circuit Court for a jury trial.

The veterinarian's trial before Judge Dennis Sweeney is expected to end tomorrow.

Dr. Burroughs was charged after the two malnourished cows were discovered at a barn he owns in the 18100 block of Penn Shop Road. He 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.

One veterinarian who examined the cows for the prosecution reported both cows were at least 250 pounds underweight. But another veterinarian, hired by the defense, said the cows DTC showed no signs of dehydration or malnutrition.

The cows, a 12-year-old Jersey heifer and a 9-year-old Hereford heifer, are now in good health and live on a farm in Staunton, Va.

Daniel Green, an Eldersburg attorney for Dr. Burroughs, told the jury of six men and six women in his opening statement that his client was properly caring for the cows, one of which was seriously ill.

Mr. Green said Dr. Burroughs and his wife will testify to explain how the veterinarian daily checked on the cows and provided them with food and water.

"It is our contention that Dr. Burroughs was giving adequate veterinary care [to the cows]," Mr. Green said. "He was very concerned for their welfare."

But Assistant State's Attorney Mary Murphy urged the jurors in her opening statement to use common sense when examining pictures and a videotape of the cows' conditions in Dr. Burrough's barn in the 18100 block of Penn Shop Road.

"You won't have any problem believing these animals were mistreated," Ms. Murphy said.

The cows were discovered by a former warden from the county's Animal Control Office when he went to Dr. Burrough's farm to inspect a fence on Jan. 21, 1992, records say.

The cows were attached to lead shanks and long ropes that were entangled in roots and stumps in the barn, records say. One rope was so entangled that the cow could not reach food.

On Jan. 22, the warden took a veterinarian to the farm to examine the animals.

The cows were seized two days later and taken to University of Maryland, where they were treated.

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