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Virginia man charged with harassing Baltimore County farmer in stolen calf case

By Cody Boteler

Baltimore Sun Media|

Oct 23, 2019 at 8:33 PM

A criminal charge of harassment has been brought against Ryan Phillips, who owns an animal sanctuary in Virginia, in an ongoing saga of litigation and alleged animal abuse.

In a handwritten complaint, filed in mid-September and obtained through the court system, Braglio accuses Phillips of “non-stop harassment,” and said Phillips threatened to “destroy our reputation both personally and financially” and “attack all my children and all business until we accepted his offer” of being paid for the once-stolen calf.

Phillips, 42, of Williamsburg, Virginia, is charged with harassment, a misdemeanor. If found guilty, he could be imprisoned for up to 90 days and/or pay a fine of up to $500. A trial is scheduled in Baltimore County for Nov. 20.

Phillips, citing the advice of an attorney, declined to comment on the record. Phillips did not have an attorney listed in online court records as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Braglio said there was not one single incident that led him to pursue charges.

“Bottom line is, we filed the charges because that’s what it is. It’s harassment,” Braglio said.

In July, Phillips sought to bring charges against Braglio. He was charged with one misdemeanor of using profane or threatening language during a phone conversation with Phillips. Those charges were dropped.

The matter dates to May, when Jennifer Lauren Sully and Erika Lynn Wilkinson were charged with stealing a calf — called Milly by the Braglios and Sophie by Life with Pigs — and taking it to the animal sanctuary in Virginia.

Baltimore County police were called to Braglio Farms on April 10 after the owners discovered the calf was missing. The owners had license plate information for the two women, who had been trespassing on the farm, police said.

Phillips and supporters of Life with Pigs have said the cow was taken because it was being “rescued” from abuse and neglect. He’s posted dozens of photos of the calf on social media, and said those photos showed evidence of neglect and abuse. Supporters on the Life with Pigs Facebook page and other social media pages have engaged in email and other campaigns, urging authorities, local journalists and others to investigate Braglio Farms for animal abuse and neglect.

In a prior statement, Braglio Farms accused Phillips of staging and falsifying photos and denied neglecting or abusing the animal.

Baltimore County police investigated the farm and found no evidence of neglect or abuse. A police spokesperson said the photos shared by Phillips online did not feature heavily in the investigation because they could have been “cropped or altered.”


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - A Virginia couple said “I do” surrounded by their human and non-human family members in an April ceremony in their backyard.

Life With Pigs Farm Animal Sanctuary Managers Ryan and Mallory Phillips were engaged last year and married on April 23, 2021.

“Ryan started the sanctuary in 2018, and a Facebook video of him and his cow Jenna caught Mallory’s eye. The two became friends and soon fell in love. Not long after, Mallory moved across the country from Arizona to Williamsburg to join Ryan and the Life With Pigs’ family,” a release said.

Their wedding party featured Jenna as “Best Cow” and their other cow Maisie as “Cow of Honor.” The rest of the wedding party was made up of three Grooms-Pigs, three Brides-Dogs, one turkey and two chickens.

Around the time of their wedding, they also heard about a blind dwarf Angus calf named Ginger who was at risk of being slaughter if she didn’t find a new home.

“Around that time, Ryan and Mallory heard about a blind dwarf Angus calf named Ginger who was at risk of being slaughtered if she didn’t find a new home. Born with genetic abnormalities leading her to be blind and with stunted growth, it was not always clear that she was going to make it. Fortunately, Ginger made it to her 1st birthday and the family housing her reached out to the community to try to find her a suitable home,” the release said.

Ryan and Mallory decided that Ginger would make a great addition to their sanctuary family and welcomed her to the sanctuary.

For more information on Life With Pigs, click here.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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Life With Pigs: Giving farm animals a second chance at life

By Amelia Heymann

[email protected]|

Apr 11, 2019 at 4:00 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — There’s a place in town that has the best pigs in a blanket — and we’re not talking about food.

Life With Pigs Animal Sanctuary is giving a second chance at life to farm animals from bad situations. Currently, it’s the home of three pigs, a handful of chickens and turkeys and two calves.

Ryan Phillips, co-founder of Life With Pigs, said he and his family had originally adopted a couple of pigs to save them from going to the slaughterhouse.

Getting tired of carrying two pigs down three flights of stairs every day, the family moved out of their condo and into a house with two acres to start an animal sanctuary.

“It kind of opened our eyes in a lot of ways to how amazing pigs were,” Phillips said.

Getting tired of carrying the two pigs down three flights of stairs every day, the family moved out of their condo and into a house with two acres in Norge to start an animal sanctuary in October.

“So it’s to both give (the animals) an amazing life and to help people see how amazing these animals are,” Phillips said. “I know from living with Jenna, the first cow we rescued, she’s so much like living with just a giant puppy. Like she wants to run in the house she goes right to the fridge and wants carrots fed to her.”

The second cow they've adopted is Winnie. Philips said Winnie was born with two dysfunctional back legs which causes her to drag her back legs behind her and hop around.

Ryan Phillips, co-founder of Life With Pigs, said Jenna, a Holstein calf, acts like a giant puppy. She lets herself into the house to get carrots and loves to play with Phillips.

Phillips said she’s been looked at by Tidewater Equine and the Oaks Veterinary Clinic Equine and Farm Services in Smithfield.

“The vet out at the Oaks was pretty confident that something could be created to carry her weight for her so she would be able to comfortably keep carrying herself,” Phillips said.

“It seems like it’s something that can’t be corrected surgically and it’s more something we’re looking to get around comfortably and hold that weight comfortably so she can have as normal a life as possible and run around with her big sister Jenna, who’s a Holstein calf.”

Now, Phillips said he’s in contact with an organization called Animal Ortho care, which has built braces for animals as big as elephants.

Angelia Boncz, lead certified technician at Animal Ortho Care, said while animal braces are a fairly new concept, they are becoming more popular.

“People are starting to put more money into their animals and realizing there are other options rather than putting them down or some expensive surgery,” Boncz said. “What we want to do is just support the animals as much as we can and keep them happy and comfortable,”

While Boncz said braces for an animal Winnie’s size would cost about $1,800 for both legs initially, they do need to be replaced over time.

“With the bigger animals they’re a lot more destructive — they’re outside in barns rubbing on things or whatever, so it just kind of depends on what we’re dealing with,” Boncz said.

“It’s not a one pair (of braces) for the rest of their lives type thing. Straps will have to be replaced, there’s a lot of different variables on what could go wrong with them.”

However, Boncz said it’s hard to determine what a true solution would be for Winnie because she’s only seen a video of the calf so far.

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“(Winnie) seemed happy, like she wanted to live a life and be comfortable,” Boncz said. “She needs a lot of correction and support.”

Whatever the solution, Phillips said it could cost a lot, especially over time. Because of this, the sanctuary is looking to the community for help through donations.

“Also, if people happen to know someone that might be able to help with designing something, if they make bicycles using wheels and lightweight metals, could potentially help us create something that could bear that weight for her, that would be great, too,” Phillps said. “We’re really open to any way of helping.”

Ryan Phillips, co-founder of Life with Pigs, said he's asking the community to help find a solution for Winnie's legs.

Visiting hours for the farm are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Sunday, and 2-5 p.m. Thursday at Life With Pigs Animal Sanctuary, 195 Maxton Lane. Phillips asks visitors to message them to let the sanctuary know they are coming. If those hours don’t work, you can also email them at [email protected] to set up a different time.

“Jenna is always happy to meet new people, and Winnie is coming around because she trusts her big sister,” Phillips said. “And the pigs … run over to greet you.”

“The vet out at the oaks was pretty confident that something could be created to carry her weight for her so she would be able to comfortably keep carrying herself throughout life and not have to eventually be immobilized,” said Ryan Phillips, co-founder of Life With Pigs.

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