No more animals for Fremont donkey abuser

A 76-year-old woman who dragged a donkey behind a tractor for a mile pleaded no contest to a single count of animal cruelty this week. (Story contains a disturbing photo of the donkey. Reader discretion is advised.)
Jessica Cuffman
Oct 21, 2012


Virginia Secrist, who lives in Fremont, was found guilty of the charge and was ordered to surrender ownership of the 14 animals she once had on her Napoleon Road farm.

She also was barred from owning any farm animals for 10 years.

A 60-day jail sentence and $500 fine were suspended, assuming she complies with terms of probation, according to Woodville Sandusky County Court records.
Humane society officers charged Secrist for the July incident, after working with her for about a month to take better care of her farm animals, which appeared to be malnourished.

But Sandusky County animal cruelty investigator Kelley Askins got a tip on July 26 that the donkey had been dragged.

When she went to Secrist's farm to check out the tip, it was obvious that the donkey, called Henry, had been dragged and Secrist readily admitted that she had towed him for about a mile after he fell while he was hooked up to the back of her tractor.

The donkey had suffered severe injuries, road rash that left severe abrasions and flesh wounds, including a 3-inch hole in his head that left his skull exposed.

Human society officers seized all 14 animals from Secrist and placed them in foster care.

Besides Henry, Secrist had five other donkeys, three horses, one sheep and four goats.

Henry and a few of the other animals have officially been adopted, and Askins is waiting for official word from the other foster families as to whether they want to keep the rest of the animals permanently or not.

As for Secrist's sentence, Askins feels that justice truly was served.

"People have been telling me she just got a slap on the wrist. But if you lived with animals your entire life, and suddenly you can't have them anymore, that is the most severe punishment we could have dealt to her," Askins said.

As part of Secrist's sentence, she also was ordered to repay the Sandusky County Humane Society for the vet bills for the donkey, which totaled $203.

Another animal cruelty case out of Sandusky County, stemming from an August 2011 discovery that Susan Baker, 69, had 38 dogs in her Washington Township home, is still pending in the Woodville court.

Baker was charged with 38 counts of animal cruelty after police her lying unresponsive in a recliner in her home and dozens of feces covered dogs.

Her case is scheduled for another hearing in November.

Askins hopes it's the last pretrial hearing on the case. Prosecutors and Baker seem to have reached a standstill in plea negotiations.

"I've said this a million times, but hopefully this is the last one. She's going to have to plead out, or she's going to have to go to trial," Askins said.



Good. Now she can drive her tractor all by her lonely old self.


Did the donkey die, or has it been taken in by a rescue? (Sorry, can't read the article.)


It was rescued but they have not given an update if it is still alive


From the article:
'Henry and a few of the other animals have officially been adopted, and Askins is waiting for official word from the other foster families as to whether they want to keep the rest of the animals permanently or not.'

R U Kidding me

It was a slap on the wrist. she needs to serve jail time and pay the fine


Animal abuse needs to be a felony in Ohio, like some other states.

nosey rosey

Ohio is one of only 4 states where no form of animal abuse is a felony. Visit and see what you can do to change the law.


Thanks for that information and the link. RRS


OK. I need to try and understand why some can't read the articles but can read the comments?! Please?

ex local

I know how to drive a tractor and would be happy to drag her down the road! She needs to serve jail time for her actions. Being old is no excuse!!


She should have been made to pay the fine, and give it to the Humane society for taking care of her former animals!


Why isn't there a pic of this barbarian?!


She needs to serve jail time, pay the fine and they need to hook her up to the tractor and drag her around, just like she did to that poor donkey. Let her know what that poor thing felt. And she shouldn't be able to EVER own another animal OR be around any animals - not within 500 feet of one, or she gets a fine and back in jail. She is a total LOSER!

Phil Packer

Animals don't have any feelings, come on! Look into a cows eyes right before you slaughter it~it has no soul or understanding of anything(especially of God)! Put that donkey back to work, and when it's too old for that, feed it to the pigs and get them ready for the "pit"! What's wrong with you people?


You sick F**K.

Julie R.


Texx Reloader

All of this injustice will be a thing of the past with the New Sandusky County Municipal Court. Not. Has anyone really considered what is being proposed? Will this centrally located court which replaces Woodville, Clyde, and Bellevue really save the taxpayers money? It will cut a low level job or two, but promote a judge to full time position with full time pay, and full time benefits. And as government goes the small savings realized from the loss of a clerk or two will soon be eaten up by a nice building, of course, and more staff added after the thing has been launched and safely foisted on the unsuspecting public. No longer will people in outlying areas of Bellevue and Woodville speak with a judge who they know, but will have to drive the distance to Fremont and back for every small thing. We should see it for what it is. Another pig-in-a-poke, vetted as a convenience and savings for the people of Sandusky County, but in reality public funds expended and expanded for the benefit of the careers of a very small few. Think of this when you go to the polls!

nosey rosey

Combining or not combining court buildings will have no bearing on the injustice of animal abuse cases. You can't change how you prosecute a law, just because you do it in a different building.