A Glenville man had two horses and a pony taken from his farm on West Glenville Road after police say he failed to provide them and many other animals with proper food, water and shelter.
The animals were taken Sunday after Joshua Rockwood, 36, operator of West Wind Acres farm, was charged last week with 13 counts of not providing proper sustenance, a misdemeanor under state Agriculture and Markets Law, Glenville police said.
The two draft horses and pony are receiving veterinary care at Peaceful Acres Horses on Rynex Corners Road in Rotterdam.
The charges are related to Rockwood’s alleged neglect of many animals — including sheep, sheepdogs, piglets and pigs — in February and March, according to Town Court papers. Many of the animals were kept in an unheated barn with frozen drinking water that was mixed with feces, documents detailing the charges said.
The investigation started in February after police received an anonymous tip that the animals were being neglected, police Lt. Steve Janik said. An officer searched the farm three times, on Feb. 25, March 3 and March 12. After the first visit, Officer Meredith Kaiser, who is trained in investigating animal abuse complaints, was joined at the farm by a veterinarian, Janik said.
Many animals, including the two horses and pony, had been left outside or in an unheated barn overnight in February when temperatures dipped well below zero, Janik said. The horses and pony did not appear to be emaciated, but showed signs of illness and injury, with one horse having a respiratory issue, he said.
“It’s not a lot to ask that you provide animals with proper food, proper shelter and proper water,” he said.
Janik said Rockwood appeared to be providing the about 100 animals still on the farm with proper care, “but of course those concerns back in February were much greater than they are today based on the weather.”
If Rockwood continues to comply, he may be able to get the three animals back, Janik said, “but we’re not going to stop inspecting these animals now that we know that there were some up there that were definitely in need of proper food and proper shelter.”
Among the accusations:
• Rockwood had three horses, 30 cows and 10 pigs in a fenced-in area where the only water was a natural spring that was frozen and had with animal feces in it. The animals also had no food.
• He kept several sheep in an unheated barn, and the water in their drinking trough was frozen and had feces mixed in.
• Four sheepdogs were kept in an unheated barn with frozen water mixed with feces.
• Fifteen piglets were kept in an unheated barn with frozen drinking water and no food.
• Thirty pigs were kept in a fenced-off area with frozen water and no food. The pigs were also found without proper shelter, which resulted in some having frostbitten ears.
• Fifteen sheep were kept in a pen with no food.
Rockwood was arraigned March 12 and is scheduled to return to Glenville Town Court on Tuesday, March 24.
On Tuesday afternoon, dressed in a shirt, tie and North Face fleece jacket, Rockwood used a tractor to move bails of hay around the farm as pigs and cattle roamed about. He declined to comment on the charges, but said he rents the land for the farm.
“After this is done, you can come do a story on this farm,” he said. “I can’t comment on this case.”
Nanci Beyerl, executive director of Peaceful Acres Horses, where the two horses and pony are staying, said all three had severely overgrown hoofs that needed trimming when they arrived Sunday.
She said that when the pony, a middle-aged mare, got into a stall with fresh shavings, water and hay, “she was really cute in how she behaved.”
“She rolled, and she got up and shook the shavings off, and visited with us,” she said.
She declined to allow a Gazette photographer to take pictures of the animals, at the urging of Glenville police, who consider the animals evidence in an open animal cruelty investigation.
Further charges could be coming, police said.