Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting

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Letters to the Editor and Others

Prosecute Horse Cruelty Case

4/21/04

Dear Hornell Evening Tribune:

One year ago, Anthony Imperatrice, of Greenwood, was charged with 4 felony counts of poisoning his 4 draft horses with arsenic.

The SPCA, the County Sheriff, the organizations who have taken in the surviving animals, and outraged people from all over the country are still waiting for Steuben County District Attorney John Tunney to prosecute the case.

Vicki Mosgrove, Finger Lakes SPCA executive director, said she has made numerous, unsuccessful attempts to speak to Tunney about the status of the case. County Sheriff Rob Stewart concurs that Tunney "hasn't returned anyone's calls."

Imperatrice deliberately poisoned the horses because he was aggravated about a family argument.

During a raid, a month later, investigators found, in addition to these 4 dead horses (left to rot where they had collapsed), the rotting corpses of more than a dozen other animals, and dozens of surviving, severely abused and neglected animals - many ill - forced to live in the decay and filth.

Susie Coston, who assisted with the removal of the animals, and who is director of Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen (which took in dozens of sheep, lambs, goats, horses, cattle, rabbits, birds, cats, and a donkey from Imperatrice's farm), said that the animals trembled in fear when the rescuers walked through.

Coston reported that one terrified goat was found tethered between dead horses. Another 2 goats (one wearing a dog collar embedded in her neck), with deformed hooves, were tethered in a stall on top of moldy hay and feces stacked higher than the gate. Their tethers were too short to allow them to stand, forcing them to remain on their knees. Their chests and knees were rubbed raw from months of this cruel confinement. When rescuers untied the goats, they crawled to the door on their knees. An arthritic donkey, with hooves severely deformed from neglect, and a bone sticking out of the skin of her foot, was barely able to walk. Hay was stored and growing just out of reach of the starving animals.

Emaciated nursing animals and their babies were stuffed in pens barely big enough to contain them and had no shade to protect them from the sun.

Imperatrice felt he had done nothing wrong.

Photos documenting the cruel conditions, and Coston's eyewitness report, are on Farm Sanctuary's web site: www.farmsanctuary.org/adopt/nightmare.htm .

Seeing the loving care the survivors of Imperatrice's hell are now receiving illustrates humanity at its highest and least evolved states.

Urge Mr. Tunney to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law (not allowing Pre-Trial Intervention); to recommend maximum jail time, fines and full expenses for the ongoing care of the animals; and to prohibit Imperatrice from ever harboring or working with animals. Under no circumstances should any of the animals be given to Imperatrice's daughter, as is being considered. Imperatrice should have no input into the placements of the animals.

In addition to injustice for the animals by not prosecuting this case in a timely manner, those caring for the surviving animals, without compensation, are under severe financial duress. This also impairs their ability to help other animals in need. Since District Attorney Tunney does not feel this abuse warrants his attention, the District Attorney's Office of Steuben County (and every other New York county) should appoint a prosecutor to deal solely with animal abuse cases.

Susan Gordon, Representative
Wildlife Watch

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