ELIZABETHTOWN — An irate animal-rights attorney and a 50-minute executive session were both aspects of a meeting where Essex County lawmakers made decisions about 40 horses seized for alleged mistreatment.
The horses were impounded from Shelley Wing’s Wing and a Prayer Farm in Essex in mid September, and Wing and her daughter, Emily, were later charged with animal cruelty.
In a separate civil case, Essex County was granted ownership of the horses after the elder Wing failed to pay a $43,890 bond to cover their care.
With bills for feed and medical care mounting, the County Board of Supervisors voted in the special session Tuesday to contract with Crane Mountain Valley Rescue Service of Westport to adopt out the horses.
The board also voted to pay retired Westport veterinarian Diane Dodd $75 an hour to care for the equines while they are in county custody. Most are at the horse barns at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport, while some are at private farms.
The Board of Supervisors went into executive session with County Attorney Daniel Manning III and Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague to discuss the horses but not before attorney Nancy Guttenberg of North Hudson tried to stop them.
The stated reason for the executive session was to receive information about the prosecution from Sprague and legal advice from Manning.
Guttenberg said she was representing the National Animal Interest Alliance, a Portland, Ore.,-based animal welfare group.
“I am representing my client,” she shouted at the board. “It (the closed session) will be a basis for appeal.”
Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) told her it would be a conflict to speak with her.
After the board left the room for its closed-door session, Guttenberg said only that she plans a lawsuit to stop the county from adopting out the equines.