[Prepared Sept. 27th for publication in the November 2006 “American Family Voice”]




By Jane Williams


Gladstone, Virginia: At 5:00 AM on September 12, 2006, Cindi and Danny Henshaw were awakened by their local Virginia game warden, who arrested Danny on an apparently trumped up Class 2 Misdemeanor charge and took him from his Willis River Hunting preserve for supposedly, “operating a mammalian hunting enclosure without a permit.” As soon as Danny was out of the way, 9 SUV’s and pickups, 4 wheelers, and numerous heavily armed agents entered the Henshaw property with a Quarantine Order and began shooting Henshaw’s hogs and sheep with 12 gauge shotguns. Some 270 shell casings were also found. Individuals participating in the attack were Virginia game wardens, USDA employees, and Virginia Department of Agriculture employees. At the Henshaw’s farm, the Virginia State Veterinarian appeared to be in charge. Some of the invaders wore jeans and sweat shirts with USDA lettering. Others wore white clothing that appeared to be hazardous materials suits. These were probably Virginia Department of Agriculture employees. They sure weren’t hunters, since they mostly used shotguns to kill the livestock and could not hit the scurrying young pigs. Danny was released from custody in 2 hours and allowed to return to the farm where he and Cindi were controlled around the clock by armed guards from September 12th through September 22nd.


A command center had been set up and another raid was being conducted near Farmville in Cumberland County, Virginia, at the same time [details not available on Sept. 27th]. On September 22nd, the attackers withdrew after killing Henshaw’s sheep and at least 79 hogs.  Animals were starved to trick them into the open as they searched for food.


On September 26th, the Henshaws still knew little about why their hunting operation was attacked. About all they knew was that an agent supposedly reported that he had hunted at their reserve in May and, according to the agent, the hog that he shot had probably been infected with pseudorabies. The agent returned on September 9th and killed another hog that supposedly tested positive for pseudorabies. The Henshaws were not provided with any test reports. [It is doubtful that blood from a hog shot at the hunting reserve would have been viable for testing because of the time lapse from the death of the animal and the testing of the blood unless proper refrigeration techniques were used.] Danny and Cindi were held under armed guard around the clock and not allowed to move around to see what was taking place.


Attachments to the Quarantine Order stated that Henshaws would be charged for the costs of the massacre, including man hours, and the incineration of their animals. The hogs that were shot were apparently not tested, but their carcasses were loaded on trailers and hauled away for incineration as blood poured through the slats as the trailers rolled down the road. [On September 27th, the Henshaws were informed that blood from 15 of the slaughtered hogs had tested positive for pseudo rabies. Information about testing will be posted at a later date.]  The Henshaws were prevented by armed guards from entering what the agents called, “the compound,” where the animals were being slaughtered. Two 5 ˝ year old pet hogs that as babies had been bottle fed in their home from the time the pigs were 3 days old were housed on property with a separate deed from the hunting preserve.  They were shot in their pen and their bleeding carcasses were dragged across the driveway where they had once followed the Henshaws around like pet dogs.


On September 22nd, the agents departed because they decided that they could not kill all of the hogs. Danny agreed to feed the hogs corn until they were de-stressed and then kill the remaining hogs. He would have agreed to anything to get the gun slingers off of his property. He was order not to do anything with the pigs other than feed them. That included treating wounded pigs and drawing blood for testing.. The Quarantine Order stated that the herd must be eradicated within 15 days to prevent the State of Virginia from loosing its “pseudorabies free status”.


Arkansas regulations allow 180 days for sell out for slaughter before an order of mandatory destruction is issued. Pseudorabies infected hogs are safe for human consumption. The Henshaws should have been allowed to sell their hogs for slaughter, if pseudorabies had been detected, but they were not allowed to test, confirm the presence of pseudorabies, or sell their hogs. They were only allowed to listen to the gunshots and hear the screaming, wounded, dying hogs.


Danny Henshaw is a nationally known archer (consistently ranking in the top 10 in the US), a highly respected hunter, a well known hunting film maker, and sought after hunting guide. He and Cindi had operated their hunting preserve for 16 years, and it had been grand-fathered in by the Commonwealth’s Attorney to grant it “status” as new Virginia regulations were enacted. Danny had worked as an undercover narcotics agent and said that this attack goes well beyond his experience as a law officer. Willis River Hunting, located near Gladstone, Virginia, offered guided hunting trips for Russian boar, trophy rams, and sheep. No adult animals remain at Willis River Hunting. The massacre destroyed the Henshaw’s primary business. They offer turkey hunts in Virginia and Kansas and deer hunts in Virginia and Kansas. Danny has even taken some rather famous Governor Clinton security guards turkey hunting and participated in making hunting films in Oklahoma. 





“Pseudorabies is a viral disease most prevalent in swine, often causing newborn piglets to die. Older pigs can survive infection, becoming carriers of the pseudorabies virus for life.  Other animals infected from swine die from pseudorabies, which is also known as Aujeszky's disease and "mad itch."  Infected cattle and sheep can first show signs of pseudorabies by scratching and biting themselves.  In dogs and cats, pseudorabies can cause sudden death.  The virus does not cause illness in humans.” “Pseudorabies is a disease of swine that can also affect cattle, horses, dogs, cats, sheep, and goats. The disease is caused by pseudorabies virus (PRV), an extremely contagious herpes virus that causes reproductive problems, including abortion, stillbirths, and even occasional death losses in breeding and finishing hogs.” “ The virus has never been shown to be contagious to humans, not even to people working on farms with many PRV-infected animals.” “PRV is primarily spread through direct animal-to-animal (or nose-to-nose) contact between an infected and shedding pig and a noninfected pig. If present on inanimate objects, such as boots, clothing, feed, trucks, and equipment, the virus can also spread from herd to herd and farm to farm.”


“Pseudorabies can be prevented primarily through good, tight biosecurity, a sound vaccination program, and thorough, meticulous management with disease control and prevention in mind.” “PRV is known to have existed in the United States for at least 150 years.” “USDA established a voluntary eradication program for pseudorabies in the United States in 1989. The program is cooperative in nature and involves Federal, State, and industry participation. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) coordinates the national pseudorabies eradication program, State governments promulgate and enforce the intrastate regulations, and producers contribute by having their herds tested and instituting control and eradication measures. The program's primary activities include surveillance, herd monitoring, and herd cleanup.” “Currently, all 50 States are considered free of PRV in commercial production swine herds, those herds which have adequate measures in place to prevent contact and potential infection from feral and transitional production swine, known potential carriers of the PRV virus.” “No commercial production herds have been found to be infected with PRV since early 2003. Sporadic infections have been found in transitional production herds, those swine which are captured feral swine, or have the potential to come in contact with feral swine. Any infected transitional herds have been promptly depopulated when found, and intense epidemiological investigations have been conducted to ascertain that no viral spread to commercial production swine has occurred.”




Depopulation is slaughtering all animals supposedly affected with the disease or who are susceptible to the disease (any disease), in this case pseudorabies. All hogs are susceptible to pseudorabies. The armed agents were not able to kill all of the young pigs. Young pigs affected with pseudorabies would have been extremely easy to kill since they are weak and usually dying. Henshaws pigs ran too fast for the attackers to be able to shoot all of them. Henshaws reported that their hogs were robust and healthy. Their sows had not had conception problems, still births, or miscarriages. Young pigs had not been sick or dying.


Pseudorabies testing regulations in Arkansas require testing of 25 animals, or testing all animals on farms with smaller populations every 6 months. Larger hog operations need test only 27 if holding 100-200 head, 28 if holding 201-999 head, or 29 if holding 1000 or more head to be certified a pseudorabies free herd. Once again the small producer faces an economic disadvantage because of this costly testing requirement. This writer has not found any sale barn owner who has ever known of a pseudorabies positive test in Arkansas. Hogs can not be sold legally in Arkansas without blood being drawn by a technician or veterinarian unless the hog farm has been certified pseudorabies free. This testing requirement has caused most sale barns to no longer sell hogs because of the costs and difficulty having a veterinarian on site to draw blood. It has also caused most back yard hog producers to cease raising hogs because of the expense and difficulty involved in meeting the testing requirements. Complete swine regulations can be found at www.arlpc.org under regulations. In 1987, when the Upjohn Company developed Tolvid pseudorabies vaccine was approved, the Upjohn Company stated that 8% of the US hog population was affected by the virus. In 2006, the National Pork Producers Council announced that the United States was free of pseudorabies.


In the United States today, any animal owner might experience the same depopulation tactics that the Henshaws just experienced. Regulations vary from state to state. Animal owners might be paid a portion of what the killed animals were worth. In most states, no warrant is required to enter the farm and tests are not required to confirm a disease. The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission regulations lay out specific guidelines for quarantine and depopulation that all animal owners should study. The Arkansas Animal Producer’s Association is proposing legislation to be considered by the 2007 General Assembly that would prevent a reinactment of the Virginia massacre in this state.