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Animals in Farmersville cruelty case moving from farm

Nine stallions go to the SPCA.

More than 400 birds will be moved to two sanctuaries.

And foster homes are being sought for 175 other animals – sheep, goats, rabbits, two donkeys, two cows and one bull.

In one of the biggest animal cruelty cases the agency has encountered, hundreds of animals that the Cattaraugus County SPCA seized in an animal cruelty case last month are being moved off a Farmersville farm this week.

“All of the fowl have problems to some extent,” said Stephen Phillips, animal cruelty investigator for the SPCA.

The birds, which he said have respiratory and other health issues, are being taken to the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen and Carolina Waterfowl Sanctuary, where they will be quarantined and treated.

The owners of the farm, Donald and Bonnie George, are to return to Farmersville Town Court on April 19 after pleading not guilty to 30 counts of animal cruelty, including six new charges for failure to provide medical care and feed since the animals were seized Feb. 25.

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The conditions at the farm were discovered after one of the George’s horses was down in a field, and was euthanized after the SPCA was called. More than 600 animals were seized in place at the farm.

The Elton Road farm has been sold, and the new owner had given Friday as the deadline for moving all of the animals out. The Ohio cattle farmer is moving into the house, and his cattle are to arrive next week. But he has agreed to work with the SPCA, giving the agency time to secure foster homes for the animals. The SPCA is cleaning a large area in the barn for the cattle.

“We understand the predicament they’re in,” Phillips said of the new family. “They planned on having access to the farm a month ago.”

The Georges signed over the stallions in the spirit of cooperation, said their attorney, John J. Gilmour. He said the stallions need to be gelded, and not many people would want to pay for the gelding if they did not own the animals. Phillips said the conditions of the stallions are so bad, medical care will be expensive.

“They infected the horses’ hoofs so bad, they may never come back,” he said.

All of the horses in the barn, where the stallions were kept, had severe cases of thrush – a bacterial infection – according to a farrier who examined them. Mild thrush can become severe due to urine and feces buildup in the stalls, according to the report.

“The degree of infection would indicate these horses have lived in terrible stall conditions for multiple months if not longer,” the farrier’s report stated, according to court papers.

Conditions for the birds were no better, according to an avian expert who inspected the living conditions of the 250 ducks, 35 turkeys, 82 chickens, 38 Guinea fowl, 13 pigeons, 14 quail, 14 geese and five partridges.

Laura Wade, a veterinarian with an avian practice, called the second floor of one barn that housed chickens, Guinea fowl, ducks, pigeons and partridges a serious human health hazard because of the “shockingly very poor ventilation,” and extreme ammonia smell from feces. The SPCA bought a ventilator for those entering the room to use.

She reported that chickens and ducks appeared to be laying eggs in open food containers, piles of trash and over the fecal-contaminated ground. There was crowding, lack of adequate perching and predatory proofing, and excessive amounts of fecal matter.

Wade reported that the inadequate nutrition, poor environmental conditions and lack of medical care prior to the SPCA intervention indicates “neglect and cruelty.”

Two chickens were taken to Cornell University Animal Hospital, and were tested for diseases. One of them later died. A lamb taken to Cornell for surgery also died during a second surgery. Both animals are being necropsied.

The SPCA still is in need of food for the different animals, as well as cash donations to help pay for rescue efforts. The organization is taking applications for the fostering of the animals, which will include an on-site visit and checking of references. Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 375, Olean, NY, 14760.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com