Neglect in Redding, Connecticut

Sadly another clear situation of the system taking too long to act and giving someone multiple chances.  There’s no excuse after the initial complaints in 2011 that this woman should have had another opportunity to neglect animals.  She even has an option of appealing the seizures. What!?

NBC Report

I wonder if this woman’s age has anything to do with the situation? Is she mentally, emotionally and physically able to care for animals?

If anyone here is in the state/area can you get us any additional information or updates moving forward?

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16 thoughts on “Neglect in Redding, Connecticut

  1. One hopes that the “right to appeal” and the “2nd chance” is all just part of a fair legal process in a democratic society where everyone is allowed to put forward a defence and to state their side.

    I’m in the camp of “there’s never an excuse for starving/abusing an animal and you NEVER deserve a second chance” but I personally know of situations whereby an owner has been conned by someone else into thinking their horse is being cared for. Or the owner has had some catastrophic circumstance that has rendered them unable to provide usual care.

    So I’m content that everyone has a right to defence. However I also know wayyyyy too many cases where there’s a pattern of abuse that escalates and the authorities know and they pussy-foot about giving “loads of chances” and trying to “educate” and change the owner.

    That stinks. You can’t educate stupid and negligent and in the meantime the horse continues to suffer. How difficult is it to “just feed and look after and spend some money on your fucking horse!”

    Problem is though the authorities are swamped out with the number of cases and the animal shelters have full to overflowing with other people’s problems. Too many idiots fancying a horse and getting one/two and more just because they can. Circumstances change, recession bites, reality kicks in and they can’t deal with it and the poor horse is on the way to becoming another statistic and a problem.

    Regrettably that low end of the market is perpetuated with way too many bleeding hearts more interested in “rescuing” or saving that cheap horse they saw on Craigslist because it looks like it needs to be out of a bad situation.

    There needs to be a cull at the low end.

    I’m sick of reading about bloody mustangs that came from the Bureau of Land Management ending up with some idiot owner. They clearly need to get their act together and start doing some due diligence rather than just chucking a mustang on anyone who says they want one.

    I had 3 phone calls last week asking if I wanted a free and 2 dirt cheap horses. I’m thinking of having my answerphone message changed to “This is a reputable equestrian centre. I have good quality, well schooled horses, if you’re ringing to try to dump your problem on me then buggar off”

    It’s depressing!

  2. Actually, I think the authorities are handling this appropriately.

    In 2011, there was one complaint that the horses were underweight. The authorities looked into the situation, worked with the owner, and the horses got appropriate care and the situation was supervised until they’d regained the weight.

    More recently, there was a second complaint, they investigated, and when they found a problem they seized the horses and are working through the legal process. It’s still reasonable to give the owner a chance to appeal and get the horses back, although the only answer I’d accept at this point would be that the owner had been in the hospital for the last 6 months and whoever had been left in charge of the horses failed to take care of them.

    Do you really think that a single report of underweight animals, which the owner works to fix, should have all the animals someone owns confiscated and person never allowed to own animals again??? Most stables I know have had at least one underweight horse at some point. Horses get sick, horses get old, and some horses are just very difficult to keep weight on. If there’s a responsible owner they’ll get appropriate vet care and/or be working to find a feeding program which puts weight back on, but that does take time to work through, and sometimes there is no good solution.

    For example, out of the 4 horses I’ve owned one was underweight for several months. We had extensive vet workups done and he spent several days at Cornell University trying to figure out what was going on; eventually he had to be put to sleep (autopsy showed kidney damage and nerve issues, but nothing conclusive). My cat who was put to sleep at age 18 was seriously underweight her last few months; she was still happy and not in any pain, but she had a large mass growing in her chest which limited her appetite and the amount of food she’d eat at any point (she’d gone to the vet when the weight loss started, there was nothing reasonable to do to treat it). Despite both of those situations, I think that I should still be allowed to own animals . . .

    • “Do you really think that a single report of underweight animals, which the owner works to fix, should have all the animals someone owns confiscated and person never allowed to own animals again???”

      It appears from the 2011 report that the horse/s regained weight by simply being fed properly. It doesn’t sound like the horse/s were underweight due to recently being ‘rescued’, having been ill and recovering via vet care, age related issues etc…

      In this recent report – with picture – this again isn’t a case of two horses being sick and in the process of recovering under vet care, or age related, or, or, or. So, please. The horses simply weren’t being fed and were also being kept in dirty stalls with dirty water and no food. Such a person does NOT deserve to own animals and I don’t see why they should be given an opportunity to appeal a seizure.

      When we also consider the issue she had with importing a dog without proper paperwork etc… I’d say there’s a clear (and long standing) pattern of animal abuse/neglect.

      What I am willing to consider is that this woman suffers from some mental issues due to her age…currently 75, and 71 in 2011. Crazy cat lady comes to mind.

    • IF the horses gained weight just from being fed then frankly I do think they should be taken away from the owner.

      The horses shown in the photo aren’t “just” underweight, they’re severely malnourished. They’re grossly emaciated. I’m presuming that the owner wasn’t able to provide immediate evidence of extensive veterinary treatment and attendance as there was no mention of it.

      That might be mitigation.

      However if that isn’t the case then it’s just negligence and a failure to properly and effectively manage and yes I really do think that the animals should be confiscated and I personally wouldn’t give the owner a chance to put it right.

  3. I totally think that the horses should have been seized this time. Like I said, it’s reasonable to give her a chance to appeal the seizure, but unless she has some really good excuse (like being in the hospital the last 6 months), I don’t think she should win that appeal. She should also definitely be charged with animal cruelty at this point, and prohibited from having animals in the future.

    I just don’t see a crazy long standing pattern of abuse here, and don’t think that animal control has been acting unreasonably. The issues in 2011 were resolved (and could have been problems with a caretaker not feeding, etc). The “importing a dog without proper paperwork” could just as easily be “didn’t want to pay whatever the town charges for licensing”. Not great, but not evidence that she was neglecting or harming any of her pets.

  4. I can state from personal experience that the CT Agriculture Department employees are committed to the bone to help horses in the state. Complaints of horses in distress are taken very seriously and acted upon immediately. Laws do not allow seizure of animals before the owners have had a chance to improve the animals’ situations, explain their condition, etc. In CT, the Department of Agriculture inspects all complaints. They have a barn in the southern part of the State where seized animals are taken after due process. Built in or around 2007. I believe there are 22 stalls and some horses there have been with them for years, unable to be placed.

    When an animal is in need and the owner has not rectified the situation, the investigators go to the State to appeal for ownership of the animals. They are then seized and taken to their facility to be cared for and brought back to health. Inmates from a nearby prison provide care for the recovering horses and at one time there was big competition for the opportunity. For the first few years, the then healthy horses were taken to the University of CT to be auctioned off. Every sale requires a signed agreement stating that these horses will not be returned to the previous owner or sold for slaughter. The first few auctions had tremendous interest and bidding wars. Much to the dismay of the investigators, they haven’t held auctions for the past 2 years which means they don’t have anywhere to house large seizures. Rumor has it that the auctions will be held again in 2015.

    I know these people first hand and there is nothing dispassionate about any of them. They are hard working and dedicated to every call they receive. If people want to change these situations, they need to convince the lawmakers to utilize the legal ability to recover their costs of rehabbing the animals – to the extent of seizing the offender’s assets – cars, homes, etc. And ultimately, nobody wants to kick a 75 year old out in the street and have their name on the front page of the local paper as the punter.

    Some investigators opt for trying to work with the owner while others know the effort can be futile and go right to a Judge for a warrant when situations are grim. None are lax but all are working under the confines of a legal system that had extensive budget cuts and this program was nearly eliminated altogether. CT is a small state with a horse dense population. There aren’t enough hours in the day for the quantity of investigators. That in itself is why this situation got out of hand. I can assure that it is not because nobody cares – this I guarantee.

  5. Animals are still property under the law. In the US, no one can be deprived of a property right without due process of law. So complaint, opportunity to be heard are normal. If animals weren’t property, but under guardianship, there would be more rights for the animals. I am of mixed feelings if that should be changed because laws can be used as weapons by unscrupulous people as well as for the defense of the animals. Imagine PETA arguing no horses should be ridden and bringing suit on behalf of your horse to obtain your guardianship rights.

    This is probably a case of a kindly person over their head. She adopts two mustangs at an age when most horse people are looking for something quiet and easy to deal with. She probably shouldn’t have been approved as an adopter. She probably can’t haul feed, manure, etc. without reliable help from someone else, she may have grossly underestimated costs. She could also be suffereing from dementia.

    The horses probably will be removed this time. I dealt with a case once of a demented old woman who needed saving as much as her pets. She lived in a rat infested house, and couldn’t distinguish the rats from the dogs and cats as far as what was supposed to be a pet, she fed them all and had names for them. Life can be very sad.

    • I also was involved with a case involving an elderly woman who had some form of dementia. She was unable to remember when she last fed or watered her animals – or herself. One of her horses had just died of starvation and the remaining few were in dire straits. I had to play a bit dirty to get her address as I’d only heard what happened, not where. I more or less lost a ‘friend’ over it and in hindsight, he was only a cowardly acquaintance. The situation was quickly networked and horses were being watered and refed the next day. A bunch of volunteers got together to repair pasture fencing so the horses could be turned back out with their leanto. Meals on Wheels was brought in for the woman so she herself could eat. Her own son saw her and the horses’ condition and did nothing for any of them. HE is the one who should face neglect charges.

      The problem with these situations is that people don’t want to get involved. They like to rant and rave but rarely have the conviction to do something about it, to stand up for the animals. People forget that “we” are “they” and without “us”, there is only fodder for facebook. Most neglected animals are products of hoarding and mental illness but sometimes a good, swift nudge can cause a revelation with the owners without seizure.

  6. Please, let’s none of us fail to distinguish between whether a person should have a right of appeal versus whether we believe that appeal should be successful. A right to appeal from any decision made at first instance is a crucial part of a fair legal system. I will happily defend the right of murderers, child molesters and yes, even animal neglectors, to an appeal as part of their procedural rights. In a lot of cases the right outcome is for the appeal to be dismissed and the original order to stand, but that’s totally distinct from the right to appeal.

    • I’ve said it before and will say it again, we need to bring punitive and monetary damages to the table. We need to enforce fnes and seize assets. If for no other reason than to recover the cost of rehabilitating and rehoming the animals. And certainly everyone deserves an appeal process and few should be successful.

      • I’d like those options to exist to be used as appropriate on a case-by-case basis. The reality is that many fines and debts are unenforceable, regardless of the legal powers, because you can’t get money from people who don’t have any. The average animal neglect situation goes hand in hand with poverty and/or mental illness and I see no point in spending $1,000 in public funds on collection/ fine enforcement efforts to squeeze $20 out of someone. Best that can often be done is to get the animals out and have the person banned from having more. I also favour community service work as a punishment for convicted people without assets; potentially even in a related field, ie, let them clean cages at an animal shelter to learn how to properly care for animals.

        Now by all means if the convicted person has money/assets (and I fully acknowledge that animal neglect cases come up that are about neither finances nor mental illness, although I think those are the minority) then nail them with a huge fine and make sure that fine gets paid. I just see over and over again that levying fines against people who don’t have any money is a futile exercise.

        • http://gis.vgsi.com/reddingct/Parcel.aspx?Pid=565 I find it highly unlikely that there are more than one person with that same name in the same town. This is a link to the property owned by the offender – the property is valued at nearly $600,000 (land and house). I would be willing to bet that not one penny will be levied against it to cover the cost of rehabilitiating her horses.

          If this situation doesn’t make your fur fly………..yes, she could be mentally ill. And that gets into a very gray area but I would still support the owner’s assets covering the cost to house and heal her horses. If she’s too mentally ill to care for them, who is caring for her? Were they unaware of the horses’ condition? Turning a blind eye? She’s more copable IMO than the taxpayers to rectify this situation.

          • I was speaking in general terms. If this lady owns a nice house free and clear by all means have at her to pay the costs of rehabbing her animals. But the fact that she’s the registered owner of a $600,000 house is meaningless if she has a $650,000 mortgage against it (like so many Americans). I agree she ought to be responsible for the cost of rehabbing her horses, but I also wouldn’t want to see the taxpayer spending more money on administration and lawyers and so on if it’s not going to be worthwhile – better to just put that money to the animals in the first place.

          • True that she could be upside down with her mortgage but I have a hunch that a 75 yr old isn’t in that situation. There are laws on the books that allow for recovery of costs in situations like this that are rarely, if ever, used. Politics fail the horses and the taxpayers and as is usually the case, responsibility / common sense no longer exist.

  7. Georgia is no stellar example, but its laws have fines, confiscation of the animals, and if the fines aren’t paid, other property of the owner can be taken. The problem is, there is very little political will in the system to pursue these cases.

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