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Horse responsibilities debated by Essex County board

Essex County Board of Supervisors

Essex County Board of Supervisors Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Taking care of 26 horses can be an expensive proposition, one that members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors debated during its Oct. 7 regular board meeting.

“Are we responsible to get into this cruelty business?” Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch asked. “Is this something that is just going to add on and add on?”

Hatch asked the question as board members moved a pair of resolutions, one allowing the county to set up a bank account for monies donated to help care for horses that were taken last month from the farm of Shelley Wing in Essex, and the other contracting for professional services to lead in the care of the animals. Wing and her daughter, Emily Wing, have been charged with not properly caring for the horses in Essex Town Court.

Hatch said he felt the policies in place regarding animal cruelty were vague and could leave the door open for more costs to the county.

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava agreed.

“I had a case where the DA was prosecuting dog cruelty, and we ended up picking up the entire bill for the vet care of the dog,” Scozzafava said. “I’ve never seen where the county has been the responsible party in a situation like this. It is a gray area, and this could set a precedent. I recommend that we get someone up here from Ag and Markets to go through this with us.”

“In reality, these horses have become evidence for the District Attorneys’ office and they become partially our responsibility,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

“In the case at hand, we have to recognize that the county has a sheriff’s department and there is a requirement that they uphold the laws,” Lewis Supervisor and animal cruelty task force co-chair David Blades said. “Because this was an Essex County case and the department was the lead, there is a requirement now that the county takes care of the horses for evidence purposes and care for them until the case is resolved.”

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