The owners of 32 horses and many other animals seized last month in Connecticut have been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.
Thomas Olajos, 36, and his wife, Melanie Olajos, 37, were arrested last Friday by East Hampton police after an investigation by animal control officers from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.
They were each charged with 35 counts of cruelty to animals – 32 counts for each of the horses seized and the other three counts stemming from the alleged mistreatment of two dogs, 19 rabbits and 78 chickens removed from the East Hampton operation, Fairy Tail Equine, on February 2.
The pair were released on $US10,000 non-surety bonds and are scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on March 15, the state agriculture department reported.
The couple’s arrest centers on allegations they failed to provide proper food, water, veterinary care and shelter to the animals, despite the efforts of state animal control officers to allow the couple to voluntarily improve the animals’ treatment.
The horses – mainly Friesians, Andalusians, and Gypsy Vanners – are being cared for at the department’s large animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic, and the other animals at various municipal shelters in the state.
The department was granted temporary custody of the animals by a Superior Court judge on March 1.
The department will seek formal custody of the animals at a Hartford Superior Court hearing set for March 8.
The hearing’s outcome will determine what measures the department can take, if any, to find new homes for the animals.
According to the warrant used to secure the Olajos’ arrest, an examination of each horse by an equine veterinarian after they were removed from Fairy Tail Equine found that “the herd as a whole had been neglected and was underweight”.
The veterinarian’s findings indicate that the horses have been neglected in a variety of ways, including nutrition, care of their hooves and teeth, grooming and wound care.
In addition to being underweight, many had lice infestations and their manes and tails were matted and tangled. Many were said to have dermatitis and had fecal material caked on their tails and legs.
A veterinary exam of the two dogs, both Great Danes, found that one was a two-to three-year-old male that was emaciated, with a lack of muscle mass and its ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones all evident. The dog also had fleas, a superficial skin wound, calluses on both elbows, excessive ear discharge, whipworms, profuse diarrhea and anemia.
The other dog, a year-old female, was underweight and also had fleas, as well as current and healed wounds, conjunctivitis, and excessive ear discharge. The condition of her teeth suggested that she may have been chewing on rocks and dirt.
The chickens were underweight and malnourished when seized and most had little or no access to water.
Necropsies on three of them found dead during the seizure revealed that the birds were in poor body condition with very little content in their stomachs, minimal fat stores, and other health issues including skin lesions and intestinal perforation consistent with aggression and cannibalism.
Ten chickens also in poor condition were found in a cage in the Olajos’ house.
The rabbits, found in cages throughout the house, had water and food available, but both the animals and the cages were dirty.
The agriculture department said those wishing to donate toward the care and feeding of the animals may make a contribution to the department’s Animal Abuse Cost Recovery Account.
Online donations by credit card may be made here or by check to:
The Animal Abuse Cost Recovery Account
c/o Connecticut Department of Agriculture
165 Capitol Avenue, Room G-8A
Hartford, CT 06106
Donations to the fund will be used to buy hay, grain, bedding, veterinary services for the horses and to cover costs associated with care of the other animals.
The department thanked those who had offered donations of feed, equipment or supplies. However, because the animals required a prescribed diet and other special considerations, the department encouraged donors to make contributions to the fund above so that appropriate items can be procured.