How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in NY State – A Manual of Procedures

Example 7 – Neglected Large Animals: Starving Horses

The Complaint

A complainant called the local humane agency and reported that numerous horses on the property of a resident were not being fed and appeared to be starving.

The humane agency had been to the same property in the recent past to investigate a complaint that the horses were not being fed. The owners had been told to worm the horses and increase their feed. The owner had agreed to cooperate at that time.

The Response

  1. Based on an interview of the complainant and the past knowledge of the cruelty investigator, the humane agency applied for a search warrant and contacted the sheriff’ department. A local veterinarian was contacted to be present when the warrant was executed.
  2. The sheriff’s department entered the property to execute the warrant, along with the humane society and the veterinarian.
  3. They found emaciated horses as well as two dead horses and a dead foal. There was no food or water available.
  4. The humane agency and sheriff’s deputies took photographs of the animals and their surroundings.
  5. The emaciated horses were seized and taken to the animal shelter.
  6. The veterinarian examined the animals and provided a signed statement as to their condition.
  7. The owner was ordered to bury the dead horses based on Section 377 of the Agriculture & Markets Law.

Charges Brought

The individual involved was charged with five counts of violating Article 26 Section 353 of the Agriculture & Markets Law. (Note: Because of the felony cruelty law, enacted since this case occurred, the individual could now be charged with a violation of Section 353-a, felony animal cruelty. Section 353-a, states that it applies to companion animals, but since these horses were not being used for subsistence or commercial purposes, but were more like pets, this section of the law would apply. A case in point to substantiate this view is the People v. Jeanne Ryan case in which there were numerous horses starved. She was arrested in 2017, and convicted in 2018, of 10 counts of felony cruelty and sentenced to two years in county jail and precluded from having any animals for 15 years after release. The case is discussed in She is also listed in the Orange County Animal Abuse Registry.).

Supporting Documents Follow