Update to Examiner news and article: 41 horses seized from Wing and Prayer Farm in Essex County:
All 41 horses belonging to Shelley Wing at On a Wing and a Prayer Farm were seized to give them necessary care and proper nourishment that had been denied them. The operation to examine and move all of the horses to safety took two days, involved eight trailers and many experienced volunteers along with Essex County Sheriff’s Department. The volunteers are faced with caring for horses that have had very little handling.
According to the county manager, there are a number of foals in the herd. There are also three stallions that have impregnated some of the mares.
Wing was in her home when the deputies served the warrant. She is faced with 41 counts of unclassified misdemeanor charges of failure to provide food and water.
On Tuesday, September 24, Essex County Sheriff’s Department Major David Reynolds said, “We were there to check the horses and, if necessary, take the ones that were unhealthy,” he said. She was cooperative with us.”
The end result was that officials had to remove all of the horses because Wing’s farm was in violation of State Agriculture and Markets Law. Dr. Diane Dodd of Westport has been acting as the primary veterinarian and found that all of the horses were suffering from neglect and malnourishment; some had injuries while others had health issues. The horses are now at several nearby farms and 31 are being stabled at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport.
October 7, 2013 has been set as the date for the civil hearing. The county will be represented by attorney Dan Manning.
Essex County manager Dan Palmer noted,
The town judge would set a bond amount for care of the horses for a month, and the owner has to come up with that amount or she forfeits the animals. If she can bond for the funds and the case isn’t completed by the end of that month, there would be another hearing. The bond provision repeats as the criminal case moves through court.
He explained further,
If Wing secures the bond, funds would be turned over to the county for the purpose of caring for the 41 horses. If she is unable to do that, then either the county can name a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or designate someone else to be lead agency for the bond. Ultimately, the reason the county has ended up with the horses is that the warrant was issued to the District Attorney’s Office.
Wing has owned the farm since 2000. It comprises 20 acres and is currently valued at $200,800. The farm has come under scrutiny since early in 2013 when a determination was made that it was violating a zoning law. According to town supervisor Sharon Boisen, the ordinance in Essex as it relates to horses is very specific. The rule states: “The minimum lot size shall be two acres for one horse plus one acre for each additional horse.”
Boisen noted there are many volunteers and town officials helping care for the horses at the fairgrounds. She said,
I did assist in haying and watering the horses yesterday. It was fascinating to me — I went there, and I thought, ‘These animals are obviously aware and grateful of the efforts being taken to care for them.’ It is very rewarding to be able to assist.
Signs forbidding unauthorized entry are still posted at the fairgrounds’ barns.
A volunteer schedule has been set up for volunteers and is changing with new additions all the time. Officials stress to get put on the list and not to simply show up.
As can be expected, the costs of the operation are mounting quickly. Donations are most welcome and really are urgently needed.
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Read short press release by town of Essex about horses seizure