By AMY HEGGEN
---- — ESSEX — The seizure of 41 horses that authorities say were starving and seriously neglected has been followed by the arrest of Shelley Wing.
The Essex woman faces 41 counts of failing to provide sustenance to the horses on her Wing and a Prayer Farm in violation of the New York State Agriculture and Markets law, according the Essex County Sheriff’s Office.
“We had three separate vets check them out,” Major David Reynolds of the Essex County Sheriff’s Office told the Press-Republican on Monday.
“The three vets determined that they were in poor health.”
A concerned citizen alerted the Sheriff’s Office to the alleged neglect. A search warrant was obtained, the horses checked by the vets and then removed from the property.
Some were “severely malnourished,” a release from the Sheriff’s Department said, and some were injured.
All are under treatment and a controlled-feeding program.
“There’s a lot of volunteers that have been trying to get the animals back into good health,” Reynolds said.
Wing could not be reached for comment on Monday.
According to the On a Wing and a Prayer website, last updated in 2012, the farm offers riding lessons along with other services.
“Our goal is to breed, raise and train young horses specifically for eventing, hunters, jumpers, dressage and endurance,” the site says. “We train with the belief that all horses are unique in their own ways and always have something new to teach us. They all have special qualities, and at On a Wing and a Prayer Farm, we bring out the best in each horse.”
As of April, Wing was a member of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Agricultural Program Committee, according to the Cooperative Extension website. Her current status wasn’t available on Monday.
Jean McMahon, the vice chair of that committee, knows Wing from meetings and from around town, she said.
“Economically, it’s been very difficult for her. I can’t imagine her deliberately doing anything like that,” McMahon said. “She’s a lovely person; she’s been working very hard.”
Wing was to be arraigned on the charges Monday in Essex Town Court; the court couldn’t be reached for further information.
The Essex County Animal Cruelty Task Force is asking for donations from the public to help with the cost of caring for the horses.
To learn more, call Tam Mrose of the Animal Cruelty Task Force at 834-7849. Checks, 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.