GRAFTON, Ohio - After checking on a complaint of abused animals at a Grafton property on Rt. 303, Lorain County Humane officer Denise Willis said her team found conditions there so deplorable that they had to call in a veterinarian to euthanize a sheep that they thought was already dead.
That was just the beginning of what they found at 36450 St. Rt. 303.
"Somebody was concerned about a horse they had seen. It's hair was falling out, it was very emaciated, could we go check it. We pulled on the property, (Friday, May 30) we saw a gentleman, we told him why we were there and could we look at the animals and he said yes. He said he was not the owner, he was the caregiver," said Willis.
That man was 49-year-old Richard Newton. His home address noted on a Lorain County Sheriffs report is at the 4800 block of Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.
According to the Sheriffs' report Newton gave conflicting answers as to the whereabouts of the property's owner, 41-year-old Mahmoud S. Abukhalil. Initially Newton told officials on scene that Abukhalil was out of the country. Eventually it was discovered that Abukhalil was inside the residence.
In a search of the property, the sheriffs report details the finding of dozens of animal carcasses, along with live chickens and horses on the property. Most in need of food and water.
Dr. Matthew Klingman, the veterinarian called to the scene said he found the one sheep near a dead goat. Klingman said he had to euthanize it soon after arriving. Klingman is often called to assist in cases investigated by the Lorain Humane Society.
"I immediately saw a sheep, there were a mess of chickens. There was a deceased...looked to be a goat, and then there were the five horses, one of which was pathologically thin," said Klingman. "
According to Willis some of the horses they found were emaciated without fresh water. The ones in the healthiest condition were recently purchased by the owner, she was told. The sheep's water, "Had black muck in the bucket," said Willis. "When I asked Mr. Newton when was the last time the sheep had had fresh water, he said he 'just pours water on top of what was in the bucket.' It was like goo in that bucket."
Both men are scheduled for pretrial at Elyria Municipal Court July 2. Both are charged with 3 counts of Cruelty to Animals, and 1 count each of Obstruction of Official Business.