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Dog custody case headed to court

Local businesses step up with donations

A judge will decide sometime in early July who gets custody of 33 dogs from a Windsor-area farm currently housed at the Isle of Wight County Animal Shelter.

In the meantime, a number of area residents and two local businesses have stepped up with donations after learning of the shelter’s influx of animals.

The dogs are among 110 Animal Control personnel seized several weeks ago after learning the farm’s owner had died and his family was having difficulty keeping up with the animals’ care.

According to Capt. Tommy Potter, spokesman for the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office and its Animal Control division, most of the dogs seized have either been adopted or placed into foster homes. The 33 that remain housed at the shelter are those the family of the deceased wouldn’t voluntarily surrender. As such, they must be held at the shelter until the court’s ruling, at which point they will either be returned to the family if the family can demonstrate they are able to provide for them, or remain at the shelter and be made available for adoption. Potter said he didn’t know the exact date the case would be heard.

Animal Control personnel also removed an additional 150 farm animals from the property, including cows, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep and ducks. Some of the cows and ducks were placed at the farm behind Windsor Elementary School where Isle of Wight County Schools operates its agriculture career and technical education program, but a number of chickens and rabbits remain at the shelter available for adoption, Potter said.

“We received numerous donations from private citizens from all over the area,” Potter said.

The hardware and garden supply store on West Main Street in Smithfield formerly known as Farmers Service Company, which recently affiliated itself with Ace Hardware and rebranded as Farmers Service Ace Garden Center, made a sizable donation earlier this month, Potter added.

The business worked through Gimme Shelter, a Smithfield-based nonprofit thrift store whose proceeds benefit the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter, to gift the county facility with about $1,000 worth of supplies. This included a wire pen for the chickens and turkeys, wood chip bedding for the rabbits, a dog kennel and approximately 20 bags of food and other items.

“We also have a longstanding partnership with the SMUCKERS corporation in Suffolk,” Potter said. “They have a division that makes dog food and treats. Once again they came to our rescue and donated numerous bags of dog food and treats.”