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Farmer calls euthanasia unnecessary


County animal control officers shouldn't have killed two animals on a Marston farm during a 1990 raid to investigate charges of animal cruelty, a farmer testified in Carroll County Circuit Court yesterday.

Also, statements by those officers during the raid that English muffins, grain and hay fed to the animals were moldy were completely false, family members said during the second day of testimony in their libel and slander suit against the Humane Society of Carroll County.

"I don't believe we feed moldy hay," said August Frederick "Fred" Schisler. The suit he and his brother, Carroll Lynn Schisler, have filed also names the Humane Society director, Carolyn "Nicky" ,, Ratliff, and animal control officer David R. Stair.

"Animals are my business," said Mr. Schisler, who purchases thin animals at livestock auctions to fatten and resell. "If you don't take care of them, they won't take care of you."

The suit seeks $120,000 from Ms. Ratliff, $171,600 from Mr. Stair and $290,000 from the Humane Society. It claims the defendants made statements to the press and released misleading videotapes to TV stations after the April 1990 raid that ruined their reputations and caused them to lose business.

The Schisler brothers -- who were acquitted in August 1990 of animal cruelty -- also claim Mr. Stair maliciously destroyed or harassed several animals on the farm, including a sow that had just given birth.

During a follow-up visit to the farm in June 1990, Mr. Stair poked the sow with a clipboard while it was nursing the newborns, Fred Schisler said. The sow jumped and stepped on two of her young, which died soon thereafter, he said.

"He thought it was some kind of joke," Fred Schisler said of Mr. Stair. "To this day, I don't know why a man in his right mind would do something like that."

During that visit, Mr. Stair told the brothers he was there "to make things as uncomfortable as possible for you boys," Mr. Schisler said.

Two other animals, a heifer and a steer, were euthanized during the raid on Mr. Stair's orders, Mr. Schisler said. Both animals were blind and the steer was the pet of his nephew, Leonard "Pee Wee" Schisler. Leonard is 14 years old.

"I thought the animals should be kept," Mr. Schisler said. "I would say I probably have 10 to 12 blind animals [on the farm] at any one time."

Upon cross-examination, Mr. Schisler acknowledged that Dr. Arthur Peck -- a retired Westminster veterinarian who specialized in livestock -- was present during the raid and overruled some of Mr. Stair's decisions about which animals were to be euthanized.

"If he [Dr. Peck] wouldn't have been there, he [Mr. Stair] would have destroyed 15 other animals," Mr. Schisler said. "David Stair would say he'd want it destroyed, and Dr. Peck would say give it a chance."

Mr. Schisler testified he did not know what Dr. Peck said about the heifer and steer because the veterinarian had pulled Mr. Stair aside to talk to him.

The Marston farmer also said the outside of round bales of hay, which are usually stored indoors, may become moldy if rained upon. However, the livestock only eats the hay from the inside of the bale, he said.

Any moldy English muffins or grain on the farm had been pushed into a compost pile to decompose prior to being spread on the fields, Mr. Schisler said. "Them muffins were being used for fertilizer," he said. "I was not using them for feed."

The compost pile was inside the fenced area that contained fresh muffins, purchased daily from a factory in Frederick, and grain for feeding the animals, Mr. Schisler said.

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