By Jonathan MummoloWashington Post Staff Writer Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Loudoun County judge ruled yesterday that 48 horses seized by county officials last week were “cruelly treated,” and he awarded custody of the thoroughbreds to the county.

General District Court Judge J. Frank Buttery Jr. signed an order giving custody of the horses to Loudoun County Animal Care and Control and ordered their owners to reimburse the county for food and medical costs incurred since the seizure, almost $8,000 so far. Dennis Danley, Donald Cutshaw and Pablo Cosme were named as owners.

“Clearly the Commonwealth has proved in this case that the animals . . . were cruelly treated,” Buttery said, after reviewing photos of the horses and conditions on the Middleburg-area farm where they were seized. “Certainly not enough food or even water was provided for them.”

Under Buttery’s order, Danley is prohibited from owning agricultural animals in Virginia because of a prior conviction. Cosme and Cutshaw cannot own agricultural animals in the state for two years.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Faw said criminal charges are pending.