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7/7 update on MA Horses

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virginia

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Got this from Cindy this morning. The final outcome will be decided today.

doing a terrific job of paring this story down to the pertinent facts, and presenting them in a clear and concise manner. The following story on the 7/7 hearing says it all. I believe the judge is as frustrated as we are, as these legal games continue.

I understand that today's hearing (7/8) has concluded. Will report as soon as I have the facts.

Owners refuse care plan for neglected horses

By Danielle Williamson / Daily News Staff

Friday, July 8, 2005

MILFORD -- An Upton couple, charged with neglecting the horses on their farm, backed away yesterday from a judge's plan to care for the animals.

Through their attorney, Jerrold Arnowitz and Maria Kelleghan rejected Milford District Court Judge Robert Calagione's care plan even though it mirrored the one they suggested to him last week.

After listening to prosecutor Robert Shea and defense attorney Daniel Solomon, Calagione was about to issue an order to remove the seven or eight remaining horses from the couple's Oak Drive farm and set up care guidelines.

Calagione said the couple should "relinquish care and custody" of the horses by July 14, provide the identity and location of each of the horses on their property at the time of the original complaint, allow weekly inspections by the MSPCA, and pay for biweekly veterinarian evaluations.

The judge's conditions are similar to a plan Solomon offered last week as a middle ground between Arnowitz's desire, which was to keep the horses on his property, and the prosecutor's plan, which would have put the horses in the care of the Northeast Miniature Horse Club.

Yesterday, however, through Solomon, Arnowitz objected to the judge's proposed conditions, drawing a rebuke from the judge.

"You already put that offer on the table," Calagione said.

In a June 16 complaint, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said its enforcement officers saw as many as 30 malnourished horses at the couple's farm in late April. Tubs had low water levels, preventing many horses from drinking, the MSPCA alleged.

Since the couple's June 27 arraignment, about 20 of those horses have been placed with new owners.

Solomon said he couldn't find a section of the law that would allow the judge to remove the animals from private property before a conviction. Prosecutor Shea argued the animals are entitled by law to sustenance, sanitary conditions and shelter -- all of which he believed they were not getting at the couple's farm. [continue]

Outside court afterward, Solomon said upon close review of the law, he and his clients realized they did not have to give up control of the animals.

"We tried to reach a resolution, were unable to, and the fact is, we're not obligated to by law," Solomon said. "The commonwealth had no basis to make the request in the first place."

Sgt. Peter Oberton, the MSPCA officer who has handled Arnowitz and Kelleghan's case, said though the law allows him to seek a warrant to remove the animals from the property, he didn't feel there was sufficient probable cause to go onto the farm. He said he believed conditions had improved in recent weeks.

Calagione ordered the couple to appear in court this morning for a continuation of their arraignment, during which he intends to set the conditions of release while they await trial.

Kelleghan has been excused from previous court dates for health reasons.
 

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