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Volunteers making progress in cleanup of ‘a lot of filth’ at farm in Cattaraugus County

One woman describes living conditions for more than 600 animals at a Cattaraugus County farm as “horrible” and “horrendous.”

But after another Sunday spent cleaning out Painted Meadows Farm in Farmersville and tending the animals, volunteers said they are making progress since an investigation was triggered by the Feb. 20 discovery of a dying horse.

“I think maybe two more weekends and we’ll have the conditions at least reasonable,” said Ginger Schroder. “There’s a lot of problems here. There’s a lot of filth. There’s a lot of excess junk that makes it very difficult to work around. But at least we’re getting the animals in good, livable conditions – clean stalls, fresh bedding, clean food, clean water.”

A judge has ordered the seizure of the animals – mostly fowl, but also horses, goats, sheep and a few beef cattle.

The owners of the farm, Bonnie and Donald George, face two dozen animal-cruelty charges and are scheduled to appear in Farmersville Town Court on Tuesday.

Schroder, a neighbor to the 120-acre farm on Elton Road, said an excavator was used Sunday to clean out two 10-by-10-foot horse stalls that were 3 feet deep with manure. Manure-encrusted rabbit cages also were pulled out.

“It looks beautiful now,” she said.

Investigators said they found deplorable conditions at the farm. But that’s beginning to change.

“Every day gets better,” said Cynthia Nupp, an SPCA animal-control officer. “But it’s a long row to hoe.”

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More than 50 volunteers descended on the muddy farm Sunday, including horse handlers Melanie Brubaker and Mary Haskins, who drove an hour from Whitesville for the second straight weekend to help.

They spent hours treating a horse suffering from a condition known as choke, in which the esophagus becomes blocked by food. The horse was malnourished and in poor dental health, Haskins said.

“It’s horrible here,” she said. “They are not to the point of starvation, but the living conditions are horrendous.”

The horse recovered from the blockage by the time a veterinarian arrived, Brubaker said.

“He’s back in his stall munching hay now,” she said. “He’ll be fine. There’s another mare in there with him. They’re kind of a pair.”

More than 300 bales of hay were dropped off Sunday, and a certified farrier from Richard’s Holistic Equine Services in Ohio was assessing the hoofs of nine stallions, Schroder said. Some of the horses have developed thrush, a bacterial infection of the hoof caused by standing in a moist area for extended periods, she said.

Volunteers are in need of horse harnesses and more food as medical bills top $3,000, Nupp said.

Donations can be provided to the SPCA, a private nonprofit, by mail at P.O. Box 375, Olean, NY 14760 or by clicking on the “donate now” button on its Facebook page.

The cleanup continues daily, and people interested in volunteering may call Nupp at 372-8492.

“We’ve been really blessed,” she said of donations. “There’s so many animals that it doesn’t last long. We’ll take any help and all the help we can get.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com