One of the horses seized from Joshua Rockwood’s West Glenville farm last month was taken to a Ravena horse clinic because she’s pregnant, according to testimony given by Nanci Beyerl, executive director of Peaceful Acres Horses, during a Monday afternoon hearing in Glenville Town Court.
Beyerl included the expenses to board the mare, named Juliet, at the OakenCroft clinic in the total $7,600 she is seeking from Rockwood for the care of two horses and a pony from March 15, when the animals were taken from his farm, through April 16.
Rockwood faces 13 misdemeanor charges that he failed to provide his farm animals with proper sustenance and shelter, and has gained support from farmers across the Northeast who see the charges as frivolous and unwarranted. He was in court Monday to observe civil proceedings, however, related to Beyerl seeking reimbursement for the horses’ care.
Rockwood is due in court to answer to the animal-cruelty charges on June 2.
Beyerl told a courtroom of about 30 of Rockwood’s supporters that the cost to board Juliet at OakenCroft from April 12 through April 16 was $285, a cost which continues to rise since the mare has not yet given birth. Juliet has been away from Romeo, the name of the other horse being kept at Peaceful Acres in Rotterdam, since April 12 when she was taken to the clinic.
“The pony, I don’t know the name of, although people named her Peanut at Peaceful Acres,” Beyerl said.
Beyerl, who was cross-examined by Rockwood’s attorney, Andrew Safranko, and Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lorusso for 90 minutes Monday, said she took the horses in after being contacted by Glenville police because “that’s what we had to do.”
“We have 72 horses on our property,” she said. “The last thing I wanted to do was bring in three more horses.”
Judge Paul Davenport made no decision on the civil matter Monday, and said a written decision would be issued after May 4. Lorusso said if Davenport finds that funds are owed to Beyerl, Rockwood would have to post a security bond within five days.
“And if he doesn’t do that, then the animals are forfeited to the animal sanctuary,” she said.
Before that can happen, however, Davenport has to find that an act of animal cruelty has occurred.
“These horses never should have been seized in the first place,” Safranko argued following the two-hour hearing.
The hearing included testimony from defense witness Wesley Laraway, a 20-year animal rescuer who said he charges $250 per month to board horses at his Middleburgh shelter, New York Wildlife Rescue and Northeast Llama Rescue. That was much less than what Beyerl sought for the impounded horses, about $840 a month, as well as the $416 she charges to shelter non-impounded horses.
“[It] appears that she’s seeking additional fees for horses that are rescued, plus charging an administrative fee,” Safranko said. “And as our witness testified, he’s never heard of an administrative fee.”
Beyerl said the $104 “case management fee,” which she charges five days a week, covers everything beyond the cost of providing care for the horses, such as regular calls to Glenville police and the District Attorney’s Office.
“There’s been a lot that has gone into having to deal with this case, including calls to the police for protection,” Beyerl said, prompting an objection from Safranko.
Laraway, asked by Lorusso if there were administrative costs associated with animals that come to the shelter as a result of abuse charges, said those costs never worried him.
“When we get an animal abuse or neglect case that’s especially high-profile in the media, the money comes to you in donations,” he said.
Lorusso said the judge’s determination as to whether or not animal cruelty took place, as it relates to Beyerl’s seeking reimbursement, won’t be a criminal finding.
“It’s a preliminary civil finding,” she said, adding: “It’s not a determination of guilt or innocence.”