September 21, 2013

Dozens of Maine pets seized in two animal cruelty cases

Owners of the 30 animals, which include a horse, six dogs and 17 rabbits, face animal cruelty charges.

By Scott Dolan
Staff Writer

BUXTON – Buxton police investigated two serious animal cruelty cases in a single week, including one in which an emaciated, ailing horse had to be seized to be nursed back to health, and another in which 29 animals were rescued from a residence where they were living in cramped, overcrowded conditions.

click image to enlarge

Buxton police Officer Adam Ricci pets Echo, one of many animals he has helped rescue, as Betsy Murphy, executive director of the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, holds the cat in the lobby of the Westbrook shelter.

Scott Dolan / Staff Writer

The horse, a 22-year-old Arabian-cross gelding, was seized from a Chicopee Road home on Sept. 10 and is now recovering at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals. The horse had an untreated underlying condition that would have been life-threatening, said Meris Bickford, chief executive officer of the nonprofit South Windham organization.

Among the animals seized at the other home on Cemetery Road on Sept. 16 was a Pomeranian with one leg so badly infected it had to be amputated. The dog is now recovering in foster care, while most of the other animals, including five more dogs, 17 rabbits, three cats, one bird, a reptile and a hen, are recuperating at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook, where they will soon be available for adoption.

The lead investigator in both cases, Buxton police Officer Adam Ricci, is the town's former animal control officer. He released details about both cases on Friday, though, when asked by the Press Herald, he declined to name those being charged.

"What we're really looking for is for people to be made aware of these incidents so they will be more aware in the future," Ricci said.

Ricci said the members of the second household contacted him because they were unable to care for all the rabbits.

"They had too many that needed to be cared for," he said. "We try to assist whenever we can."

But when Ricci arrived at the Cemetery Road residence, it was the Pomeranian in need of immediate medical care that got his attention.

Other than the Pomeranian and the hen, which was given to a private farm, all of the other animals seized on Sept. 16 are now at the Westbrook shelter, said its executive director, Patsy Murphy.

"They will be available for adoption as soon as they are spayed and neutered," Murphy said. "One cat's been adopted already."

The farm for the Maine Society for the Protection of Animals now has 76 horses in its care, including the one from Buxton, according to Bickford, who is also the organization's legal counsel.

"The only criteria for coming into our shelter is they must be part of an active legal case," Bickford said. "We only take horses when we know the court is going to intervene."

Maine does not have a state-run large animal shelter, so such animals are brought to the nonprofit. It funds its costs mostly through donations, membership dues, bequests and fundraising, Bickford said.

The owners of the animals have been issued court summonses on animal cruelty charges.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at

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