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Massena man charged with neglecting horses due back in court Wednesday

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MASSENA - A Brasher Falls veterinarian said his examination of 26 allegedly neglected horses on a farm on the Haverstock Road revealed signs of poor management and husbandry.

Dr. Joel M. Nezezon was called to the farm as part of an investigation by state police that resulted in 22 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty being filed against Patrick J. O’Neil, 65, of 326 Haverstock Road.

State police charged O’Neil with keeping the horses in a neglected, unsanitary and unhealthy condition.

“All of the adult horses are in need of foot care and probably deworming. There was one severely lame mature paint mare and one debilitated undersized three-year-old paint stallion,” Dr. Nezezon said in a statement to state police. The young stallion had reportedly been born with a genitalia condition, and since it was not cared for was debilitated by the inability to retract his penis.

He noted he found most of the horses in fair to good body condition and indicated three adult stallions were paddocked separately, but there were several intact males with the main herd, including four newborn foals.

“The horses are somewhat feral and difficult to handle. There is a carcass of a mature horse in the barn that had been there for some time, with evidence of other carcasses throughout the farm,” he told police. Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow had signed a search warrant that allowed troopers to go on the property to determine the condition of the horses after state police responded to a complaint filed by a neighbor.

Shannon E. Day-Laclair, in a statement she provided troopers, said she had tried to assist O’Neil with the care of his animals for over a year and said she had decided to call an elected official and seek assistance on May 8 after he refused to give her permission to get care for a horse that appeared unable to bear weight on its front leg.

She said she had first offered her assistance when she saw a baby horse laying on the ground and very lethargic around Easter 2012.

“Patrick told me the baby horse was too far gone, and the mother was not producing any milk. Patrick pretty much told me he was going to let it die,” she said.

Ms. Day-Laclair said O’Neil allowed her to take and care for that foal, and it died a few days later.

She told police she had also seen repeated instances of mares with open wounds causes by stallions with which they were sharing pasture.

“Patrick would only help me once in a while when I would pressure him to help the animals or I would make him pay for it. I’ve seen numerous horses die over the past year. There are many horses over there that are extremely neglected and need vet care immediately,” Ms. Day-Laclair suggested in her statement.

The town justice had arraigned O’Neil on the 22 misdemeanor counts on May 9 and released him on his own recognizance after the Haverstock Road resident entered a not guilty plea. The court also stipulated O’Neil is not allowed to bring any more animals to his property while the case is pending.

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