Man charged with operating illegal hog farm

Gary L. Morris Sr (Photo courtesy: Virginia Beach police)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Police have arrested and charged a man accused of operating an illegal hog farm in Virginia Beach.

According to police, more than 100 hogs of different ages were living in deplorable conditions in the 2800 block of Salem Road. Officers said the location was city property.

Investigators told WAVY News Friday that some of the animals did not have adequate feed, water, or shelter and that their waste was not managed properly. According to police, at least one dead animal was left unburied in the area.

Investigators identified the owner of the hogs and arrested 64-year-old Gary Lionel Morris Sr.

He was charged with eight counts cruelty to animals, two counts of (inadequate) care of agricultural animals by owner, one count of leaving disabled or dead animal in road or allowing dead animal to remain unburied.

Morris’ daughter told WAVY News that his wife was sick in the hospital and passed away right around the time this happened.

She said he had to choose between taking care of the animals or being with his wife. While she acknowledged that the animals’ pens were wet from the rain, she denied the animals were in deplorable conditions. The Animal Enforcement Unit said the conditions appeared to have been that way for longer than a week.

According to Morris’ daughter, he was renting the land from a friend and did not know it was city land.

A city spokeswoman said the land was purchased years ago to protect Naval Air Station Oceana from encroachment. At last check, the city did not know how the animals got there.

WAVY News was unable to reach Morris for comment but left messages for him.

The hogs have since been removed from the location and are being taken care by the Animal Enforcement Unit.

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