Press-Republican

January 4, 2014

Essex County renews horse-care contracts

By LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — WESTPORT — A veterinarian working with the last seven horses seized by Essex County for alleged mistreatment says they’ve responded well to treatment and are in good health for adoption.

Essex County has just renewed its contracts for equine adoption and medical services as it tries to adopt out the remaining horses taken from a local farm last year.

The horses were removed from the Wing and a Prayer Farm in Essex after the Essex County Sheriff’s Department was called to the farm and allegedly found evidence the animals were not being fed properly or given adequate veterinary care.

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted this week to extend the contract with Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue Services in Westport for six months. It had expired in late December.

The contract is at no cost to the county.

VETERINARY COSTS

Crane Mountain has been finding qualified individuals to adopt the horses, many of which were reported to be malnourished and suffering from various untreated ailments.

Veterinarian Dr. Diane Dodd has been working with the equines, and her contract was also extended.

The county had budgeted $5,000 for veterinary care and had gone over that, to $6,900, for the medical attention for the animals. Dodd receives $75 an hour for the horses’ care.

BEING TRAINED

Dodd said Friday that she has six of the horses at her home in Westport, and one is at Crane Mountain.

“Four mares are pregnant. I have six I would like to be gone (to new homes). They’re getting trained. Their weights are all good. I would really like for them, especially the pregnant mares, to be adopted.

“I’ve been working with horse trainers, and they’re (the horses) taking saddles and bridles and that will make them ultimately much more adoptable.”

Volunteers are still working with the horses, and people are still donating supplies, Dodd said.

“Many people donated hay, $10,000 worth of hay. People donated halters and lead ropes and wheelbarrows.”

She has two Morgan geldings, two Arab geldings and two Morabs at her farm and one mare at Crane Mountain.

“My goal is to continue to make them re-homeable. There’s no good reason they can’t have homes. The county would like it if they go to knowledgeable horse people.

“All the adoption fees are waived. They need to provide photos once a month to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.”

They could use more money for training, she said.

“I train them every day. They’re very smart horses. We build in their training daily.”

To look into adopting one of the horses, call Crane Mountain at 962-8512.

FOALS TO PLACE

County Manager Daniel Palmer told lawmakers that some of the horses are very young.

“We will continue to try to adopt out the last horses,” Palmer said. “There are some difficulties; some will need a significant amount of care to adopt out.

“They’ve (Crane) done a lot of work, adopted out a lot of horses.”

DONATIONS STILL NEEDED

He said the county is caring for them using a $15,000 National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals grant and $8,000 in cash donations from private citizens it received after the horses were taken away from the previous owner, Shelly Wing, for a total of $23,000.

“We still haven’t gone into county funds yet,” Palmer said. “We’re asking for donations again.”

Checks for feeding and care, made payable directly to the Essex County Treasurer’s Office, can be mailed to P.O. Box 217, Elizabethtown, NY 12932. Write “Horse Care” on the memo line.

Donations for training may be made online at: www.gofundme.com/essexhorses

CASES STILL IN COURT

The State Agriculture and Markets Law provides for seizure of abused animals, and the horses became the property of Essex County after Wing failed to post a bond for their care.

Wing and her daughter, Emily Wing, have been charged with 41 misdemeanor counts each of animal abuse in failing to feed and care for the herd on Wing and a Prayer Farm.

There were originally 41 horses, but one died overnight at the fairgrounds soon after the horse seizure in September 2013.

The case against the Wings is still working its way through Essex Town Court, county officials said.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com