EAST HAMPTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Agriculture seized more than 100 animals from an East Hampton breeder as a part of an animal cruelty investigation.
On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture removed 32 horses, two dogs, more than 80 chickens, and several rabbits from the Fairy Tail Equine facility. Officials say the animals were malnourished, kept in unhealthy conditions, and were not receiving proper veterinary care.
Back in September, animal control officers in East Hampton received a complaint from a woman who had leased four horses to the breeder. The woman said when she picked up the horses, they had to be hospitalized for malnutrition and parasites.
The Dept. of Agriculture says the facility is owned by Thomas and Melanie Olajos, who breed Friesian, Andalusian, and Gypsy Vanner horses.
An East Hampton officer went to the facility on September 9, but wasn’t allowed access to the animals. On September 10, animal control officers from the Dept. of Agriculture went to the farm and found Thomas Olajos at the facility with no hay or grain for the horses to eat. Officials say that nearly half of the horses were underweight and showed signs of malnutrition, including muscle wasting, protruding hip bones, and visible ribs and spines. Several of the horses also had anemia.
A veterinarian hired by Olajos instructed him to have hay and clean water available for the horses at all times and to double the amount of hay given to them. The vet also told him to get care for several horses that had untrimmed or cracked hooves.
Animal control officers made frequent visits to the farm to check on the horses’ progress and said that some of them had gained weight and others had not. Officials say that Olajos admitted that he didn’t follow through on a majority of the recommendations made by the vet.
On December 4, officers returned to the farm where they found no hay for the horses. They said they also found two horses in a barn with no food or water. Officers gave the two horses water, which they drank immediately. Officers say Olajos arrived back at the farm with a load of hay.
Officials received a search and seizure warrant and were able to remove the horses from the farm on Tuesday and take them to the department’s Second Chance large animal rehab facility in Niantic. All 32 horses have been evaluated by a state veterinarian who said the horses needed to be properly treated in a healthy environment.
“Our goal was to work with the owner to rehabilitate the horses on site,” said Dr. Bruce Sherman, Director of the agency’s Bureau of Regulation and Inspection. “Unfortunately, our best efforts to bring the owner into compliance did not result in all of the horses being cared for to the degree that we required.”
The dogs, chickens, and rabbits were taken to municipal animal shelters in nearby towns.
The dept. says it is continuing to investigate this incident to determine if criminal charges need to be filed.