“Ultimately, the reason the county has ended up with the horses is that the warrant was issued to the District Attorney’s Office.”
With the warrant in hand, each of the 41 horses was scored by a veterinarian as to an individual level of health, Palmer said.
Those scores are part of the ongoing criminal investigation.
“At this point, we as a county are waiting on what the law-enforcement side of the case determines,” Palmer said.
The county’s cost will add up daily, though no official cost analysis has been determined.
Numerous volunteers are helping to care for the horses, Palmer said.
There are foals included among the herd, as well as three stallions. Roaming together at Wing’s farm, the horses were breeding. And several of the mares are pregnant, the county manager said.
“These horses are not used to being handled,” he also said.
“We couldn’t have done this without all of the volunteers involved,” Reynolds said.
Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said this is one of the most severe cases of animal cruelty the county has ever seen.
Town officials here had been eyeing the Wing and a Prayer Farm with concern for some time.
Records posted online from Essex Code Officer Lauren Murphy date to March, suggesting the farm may have violated the zoning law.
On March 18, she included in her monthly notes that she had to send an “email to (District Attorney) Kristy Sprague re. Shelley Wing horse issue and property maintenance codes issues. …need to go over to the house and investigate both ...,” according to the code officer’s minutes posted online.
Again, on July 8, Murphy indicated she had to “schedule visit with (Essex County Sheriff’s Deputy) Bob Rice to Shelley Wing’s farm.”
Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen said the zoning ordinance in Essex is specific on the acreage necessary for keeping horses.