Dozens of animals seized from local farm for students, children

Taking Action

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Dozens of animals were seized from a farm for kids in Charles City County after allegations of animal cruelty and abandonment.

The animal control unit of the Charles City County Sheriff’s Office removed and impounded three horses, two ponies, one donkey, 21 goats and two sheep. This move came after an anonymous tip alleging animal abuse and neglect.

Photos of the animals shared with 8News capture images of some skinny horses, with their ribs exposed and some of their hooves appear rough. 8News caught up with the farm’s owner Theresia Connell better known as Resi after her first court hearing. We asked why the authorities took the animals.  

“I am going to defer that until I get my lawyer. I’m sorry,” Connell responded. When 8News asked her if she abused the animals she replied, “No.”

Connell’s case was continued to give her time to find an attorney. The animals that once roved the 40-acre farm remain in the care of a veterinarian.  

The Sheriff’s Office would not comment on the condition of the animals. Online, Connell’s Independence Funie Farm is advertised to offer a farm-based high school, workshops for homeschoolers and a sheep and goat farm camp is even scheduled for this August.

8News first met Connell back in 2015, she’s a proponent of “unschooling.” It’s where you drop the curriculum and trade textbooks for experiences. ​​​​​​​”There are a lot of concerns out There people do what? What are you doing,” said Connell during a 2015 interview with 8News.  

8News did some digging after the horses and goats were impounded and found Connell was charged with animal cruelty in 2008 in Orange County. The charges were later dismissed.

Connell has been publicly blogging about the raid by law enforcement. She writes in part, “The farm is quiet. It is missing its life, Our life.”

She also says a batch of moldy hay and bad weather caused some animals to fall ill and escape.

A parent whose son attends the farm high school reached out to 8News late this afternoon and told us she’s never seen any signs of animal neglect or abuse. She told 8News the school has been a fabulous hands-on learning experience for her son. She adds there has been some illness due to bad hay and parasites but the farm has been dealing with that and treating the animals.

Connell is due back in court in July. Stay with 8News for updates.

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