Animal cruelty alleged in Arundel

Top health official in Pr. George's arrested

July 14, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Prince George's County's health officer was arrested yesterday and charged with animal cruelty in what an Anne Arundel County police official called "one of the worst cases we've seen in years."

By arrangement, Dr. Frederick J. Corder surrendered at Anne Arundel's Southern District police station about 3 p.m. and was booked on six misdemeanor counts of animal neglect and two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

Corder, 52, of Bowie, was jailed for several hours until the $100,000 bail set by a District Court commissioner was posted last night. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

The charges were lodged five weeks after Anne Arundel animal control officers confiscated eight animals from Corder's farm in Harwood - two ailing miniature horses and six neglected dogs, police said.

"It is rare that we come across cases of this magnitude," said Lt. Jonathan R. Church, who oversees animal control for the county police.

The horses' hooves had been allowed to grow 12 to 18 inches long, causing twisting in the animals' legs and "severe pain," Church said. The long hooves forced the animals to walk on their ankles, he said, adding that hooves usually need to be trimmed several times a year.

One of the horses - a stallion named Star - was euthanized by the county June 28 with Corder's permission, Church said. Bone in the stallion's feet had deteriorated and the animal had developed a prolapsed rectum - a painful condition in which the rectum turns inside-out. The lower portion of the rectum was hanging outside the horse, Church said.

The dogs - all Shar-Peis - were found in stalls filthy with urine and feces, Church said. One dog had "a severe skin rash" and had "lost a lot of his coat - some areas had scabbed over," Church said.

The surviving horse and the six dogs will remain in county custody until the case is resolved, Church said. They are receiving frequent visits from veterinarians and their health has improved, he said.

Hours after the arrest, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson issued a statement saying that Corder had been placed on administrative leave and that his deputy, Gwendolyn Clerkley, would be acting county health officer.

Corder was nominated as health officer by Johnson, and sworn in Dec. 5, 2003, for the job overseeing the county Health Department. The position is funded, at least in part, by the state, and his appointment was approved by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Officials there could not be reached for comment.

Corder received his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine in 1977, according to the Prince George's County Web site. It also said that Corder was a medical director at Corder's Children's Medical Care Inc., chaired the pediatrics unit at Prince George's Medical Center, and was a member of Prince George's Hospital Center's medical executive committee.

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