Several seized horses were being kept at the stables at the Essex County Fairgrounds. The stalls were blocked off by police tape on Monday, Sept. 23.
Ownership of the 41 horses seized from an Essex Farm now lies with Essex County after the owner failed to produce a $43,890 bond for their care while the criminal investigation continues.
Owners Shelley Wing, 59, and her daughter Emily Wing, 20, were unable to produce the bond by 6 p.m. Oct. 8.
“They did not post bond, therefore I signed a forfeiture order turning ownership over to Essex County and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department,” Essex Town Judge Stephen Sayward Jr. said.
The transfer of ownership marks the end of the civil portion of the case though the criminal investigation continues for the Wings. Both Shelley and Emily are charged with 41 counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide sustenance for the 41 horses at their 20-acre Essex farm, On A Wing and A Prayer.
An anonymous tip from a neighbor led members of the Sheriff’s department to the farm where it was discovered the 41 horses, including several foals, living in an area with more horses than allowable per acre. The pastures had little grass and the trees were stripped of their bark. The bones of a deceased horse were also found in the barn.
The horses were seized on Sept. 18 and 19. Many were taken to the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport while other horses continue to be cared for at private farms. Since the seizure, one of the horses has died.
Shelley was arraigned Sept. 23. Sayward said police attempted to serve Emily on Sept. 26, but were unsuccessful. She was served and arraigned Sept. 27.
The first hearing took place Oct. 7, without either party in attendance. Sayward said a request for both Shelley and Emily was granted that they could refrain from attending the proceedings.
The Wings are due back in court Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.
CARE OF THE HORSES
“We want to move them into new homes as soon as we can, but we first must make sure a veterinarian has declared them healthy enough to leave, so it’s still very early in the process,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said. “We have a lot of work to get to the point where we can move (the horses) into new homes as soon as we can.”
Palmer said the county is seeking help from various SPCA and Humane Associations to help with the adoption process and a trainer will be working with the horses that aren’t socialized.
Palmer said the county has seen a tremendous amount of community support to help care for the animals with donations of hay, food, buckets, harnesses and more.
“We are extremely grateful we’ve got a lot of what the horses need from the community and about $4,260 in donations,” Palmer said. “We don’t have a designated ‘horse person,’ at the county so it’s going to be a new process of getting the animals in new homes.”
To donate, people should contact Tam Mrose of the Animal Cruelty Task Force at 834-7849. Donation checks can be sent and made payable directly to the Essex County Treasurers Office, P.O. Box 217, Elizabethtown, N.Y., 12932. Anyone issuing a check is asked to indicate on the memo line of the check — Horse Care.