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Horses seized from Wayne County farm
The Times of Wayne County broke this story; you can find more on newsstands Saturday Morning.
Sodus, N.Y.- The Wayne County D.A.'s Office and animal cruelty investigators in Wayne County said horses and other animals have been seized from a farm in Sodus.
16 horses, a mini-horse, a cow and 17 birds were taken by authorities on Thursday. The birds include a peacock, a goose, three turkeys, six ducks, and seven chickens. The remains of two other horses were found piled on top of each other.
"This is the last resort that we have is to take someone's animals," said Tom Littlefield, an Animal Cruelty Investigator for the Wayne County District Attorney's Office.
The farm is on North Centenary Road in Sodus and investigators said the woman who lived there owned the animals. She told investigators that she used to work at the Finger Lakes Race Track and many of the horses are former race horses.
"The owner stated that she got most of these animals from the track," explained Littlefield. "She said that she worked there and she would bring animals home and save them and rescue them, but I've also seen that she's been selling them on Craigslist to people."
Most of the animals were moved to the Cracker Box Palace Rescue in Wayne County but the facility was unable to take in all of the animals seized. Lollypop Farm in Monroe County is now caring for fifteen of the horses.
Photos and videos of the property taken by investigators shows a makeshift barn with debris scattered around the property. A lack of food appears to have led horses to eat away at wood inside the barn and stalls; a fence post in an outside enclosure also shows signs that horses were eating it. Investigator Littlefield said the woman who owned the horses and property said she only had bad hay and moldy corn to feed the animals.
"Faced with that the horses have nothing left to eat but trees, the bark off of trees and fence posts and things like that," said Littlefield. "They're really in bad shape, the lucky ones are just the emaciated ones they have others with serious, serious injuries."
One video shows a horse limping badly on a broken leg while being led away by authorities. Another has an obvious puncture wound on its rear leg. Lollypop Farm will have veterinarians analyze each closely and issue a report to the Wayne County District Attorney. The prognosis and outlook for some could be grave.
"You look for quality of life and if there's a poor quality of life or a very poor prognosis then sometimes euthanasia is the better option as opposed to letting them suffer," explained Joanna Dychton of Lollypop Farm.
"What do you do with a woman who had all the best intentions in the world of trying to help animals, doesn't have the money and just doesn't understand that she's not helping the situation at all," wondered Ron Holdraker, owner and editor of The Times of Wayne County. "Where do you take it from there? What are they going to do with her?"
Wayne County District Attorney Richard Healy said he would consider criminal charges next week after reviewing all of the evidence and medical reports.
Photos below of the farm were taken by the Wayne County District Attorney's Office and provided to 13WHAM News by the Times of Wayne County.
Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track provided the following statement:
"We are aware of the developing story surrounding alleged animal abuse and neglect charges that involve former Finger Lakes race horses. The individual in question was an independent New York State licensed thoroughbred owner that stabled just four horses here in 2013. Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack and the Finger Lakes Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Association (HBPA), which represents horsemen and women at Finger Lakes, are both horrified at the apparent condition these animals were in at the time of their rescue. It is particularly frustrating to hear of this when all of us at Finger Lakes pride ourselves on supplying many different programs to transition horses from the racetrack, including our pioneer Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, the first such program to be located on the grounds of a racetrack in the country. We stand ready to assist the agencies caring for these horses, and local authorities with any part of their investigation."