Local News

June 4, 2014

Veterinarians: Not one horse in good health

ESSEX — The 41 horses seized from Shelley Wing’s farm suffered from chronic malnutrition, three veterinarians testified on Tuesday in Essex Town Court.

On the Henneke Scale they used to assess the condition of the animals, 5 is the median score needed to indicate good health.

“There were no 5s,” Dr. Diane Dodd said of the entire herd.

Half the horses scored a 1 or 2, she said. Just a few were 4s; the rest 3s.

“This means not fed, day after day,” Dodd said.


The case, before Essex Town Justice Steve Sayward, alleges Wing and a Prayer Farm owner Shelley Wing did not feed or provide adequate care for the horses on her property.

The animals were seized last September; Wing is charged with 41 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for failure to provide sustenance.

Drs. Susan Russell and Lacey Knapp, both veterinarians in Westport, assessed the horses at the farm after Essex County Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant there.

Both testified that, using the Henneke Scale on the first day to evaluate 30 animals, they found all were below the median score of 5.

Dodd returned to the farm on a second day, Sept. 20, to help corral and capture the horses that were not found in the first attempt.

She said she was called in to use tranquilizers where necessary, as several of the animals were “wild” and not broken to halter.


Wing’s attorney, Public Defender William Tansey, asked Russell if they were there just to seize property amid hasty assessment.

“We were called in to determine if the horses were in nutritional danger,” Russell told him.

“We were also catching the horses, and we were looking for reasons for it (the horse farm situation) to be OK, actually.”

Russell said the Henneke Scale requires palpation of each animal and visual scoring of six parts of the horse’s anatomy, including the neck, withers, loin, tailhead, ribs and shoulder.

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