Carroll farmers face cruelty, bad-meat counts

Carcasses, trash-eating swine found

place `just a pigsty,' official says

July 12, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

The owners of a 112-acre Carroll County farm have been indicted on charges of animal cruelty, feeding garbage to swine and selling contaminated meat, David P. Daggett, the county's deputy state's attorney said yesterday.

The 19-count indictment was returned by a county grand jury against Carroll Schisler Jr., 34, and his father, Carroll Schisler Sr., 60, of the 2500 block of Marston Road, Daggett said.

The younger Schisler was arrested yesterday and then released on $10,000 unsecured bail after appearing before a District Court commissioner last night, authorities said.

Daggett said a warrant has been issued for the elder Schisler and should be served in the next few days.

"That whole place is just a pigsty," said Daggett, describing the Marston farm where federal, state and county agents said they found decomposing carcasses, piles of bones and livestock feeding on rotting trash during two raids this spring.

"I just don't get it," Daggett said. "I don't know how humans or animals can live like that."

In March and April, state police obtained two warrants to search the livestock farm for violations of agricultural, environmental and animal cruelty laws.

After the second search, state agriculture officials imposed a swine quarantine on the farm, banning the sale and slaughter of pigs there. They removed a malnourished pig that later died and tested positive for trichinosis, a disease caused by a parasitic worm.

For the Schislers, the grand jury indictments are the latest development in a long-standing dispute with the humane society and agriculture officials over the conditions at the farm.

Neighbors have complained for years about marauding pigs moving freely through the farm's patchy fences. The Schislers have contended that the pigs are wild and do not belong to them.

Cows, goats, chickens and, occasionally, more exotic animals such as llamas or emus are also raised on the farm.

A Carroll County judge dropped animal cruelty charges against the elder Schisler in 1990. Four years later, he won a small libel settlement from the Humane Society of Carroll County for statements made during the earlier animal cruelty investigation.

"It's the same thing all over again," said Roland Walker, the Baltimore attorney who represents the elder Schisler. "We beat it before. We'll beat it again."

A county animal control officer seized a pig on the farm yesterday, found inside a feces-infested horse trailer, said Carolyn "Nicky" Ratliff, director of the county's humane society. She said the animal lacked water and proper ventilation.

"It was all emaciated," Daggett said of the pig.

Since Thursday afternoon, the humane society has rounded up 12 feral pigs that were found prowling just outside the perimeter of the Schislers' farm, Ratliff said. Some 30 wild pigs have been caught around the Marston Road property in the past, she said.

The Schislers also face civil charges filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for operating an unsanitary slaughterhouse without a federal license, said Amanda Eamich, spokeswoman for the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. That case is to go to U.S. District Court in Baltimore on July 25, Eamich said.

The Schislers sell their goats to African immigrants from the Washington area and allow their customers to slaughter the animals on the premises according to their religious customs, Walker said.

If convicted, both Schislers face up to 7 1/2 years in prison, Daggett said, and fines that of $1,000 to $10,000 for each of the 19 counts.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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