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Rotterdam horse sanctuary’s bid for reimbursement rejected

Rotterdam horse sanctuary’s bid for reimbursement rejected

A Rotterdam horse sanctuary owner’s attempt to be reimbursed nearly $8,000 for the care of two horse
Rotterdam horse sanctuary’s bid for reimbursement rejected
The West Wind Acres farm is seen in West Glenville on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. Owner Joshua Rockwood is under investigation for animal neglect connected to horses that have since been removed from the property, according to police.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

A Rotterdam horse sanctuary owner’s attempt to be reimbursed nearly $8,000 for the care of two horses and a pony seized from Joshua Rockwood’s West Glenville farm in March has been dismissed by a Glenville judge.

Town Justice Paul Davenport ruled Monday that Peaceful Acres Horses owner Nanci Beyerl, represented by Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lorusso, wasn’t able to prove animal cruelty took place on the farm.

“As such, the petition is hereby and in all respects dismissed,” he wrote. “All other issues raised by the parties are rendered moot by this decision, or are denied as outside the scope of this proceeding.”

The horses and pony were seized by Glenville police March 15 and Rockwood was charged with 13 misdemeanor charges that he failed to provide his farm animals with proper sustenance and shelter. The three animals have been in the care of Peaceful Acres since then, and Beyerl was seeking $7,750 for their transport and care during the first 30 days.

At an April 27 hearing, Lorusso offered as evidence the criminal charges and sworn statements from Glenville police Officer Meredith Kaiser and veterinarian Beverly Blinn-Knapp alleging that Rockwood violated state Agriculture and Markets Law. But because neither witnesses were made available for cross-examination, the evidence was considered hearsay and was therefore inadmissible, Davenport ruled.

“[Beyerl] does not raise any recognized hearsay exception to the admissibility of these documents, rather claims that this hearing was akin to a sex offender registration act hearing or probation revocation hearings, where hearsay proof is permitted,” he wrote.

Beyerl, who was cross-examined for 90 minutes during the hearing, said then that she took the animals in because “that’s what we had to do.”

Rockwell’s attorney, Andrew Safranko, argued that the horses should never have been seized and that the reimbursements costs sought were unreasonable.

Rockwood, who has gained international support in his fight against the animal-cruetly charges, is due June 2 in Glenville Town Court to answer to them.

It’s unclear if Beyerl can try again to seek reimbursement if Rockwood is found guilty.

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