Horse breeders accused of animal cruelty appeared in court on Tu - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Horse breeders accused of animal cruelty appeared in court on Tuesday

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MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -

Two horse breeders faced a judge Tuesday morning at Middletown Superior Court.

According to police, Thomas and Melanie Olajos were arrested last week by East Hampton police after an investigation by animal control officers and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

"There’s no explanation," said Mike Sentell of East Hampton. "No excuse."

The two are charged with with 35 counts of cruelty to animals after the alleged mistreatment of two dogs, 19 rabbits and 78 chickens. They are also charged with failing to provide food, water, shelter and veterinary care for 32 horses. 

The department's findings indicated that the horses were neglected in a variety of ways, including nutrition, care of their hooves and teeth, grooming and wound care, according to its report. In addition to being underweight, many of the horses had lice, their manes and tails were matted and tangled, many had a skin condition known as 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 2- to 3-year-old male that was emaciated with a lack of muscle mass and its ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones were all evident. The dog also had fleas, a superficial skin wound, calluses on both elbows, excessive discharge in its ears, whipworms, profuse diarrhea and anemia.   

The other dog, a 1-year-old old female, was underweight and also had live fleas, current and healed wounds, conjunctivitis, and excessive discharge from both ears. The condition of its teeth suggested that the dog 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 Feb. 2 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, which is directly adjacent to the horse paddock.

The rabbits, found in cages throughout the house, did have water and food available but both the animals and the cages were dirty.

Many of the animals are recovering at the Second Chance rehab facility in Niantic. The state said it is hopeful they all will find good homes.

"We've received a lot of calls," said Ray Connors, Dept. of Agriculture. "We've never really had a problem with placing animals. We do have other horses that do need homes that we've had for awhile."

The Olajos' attorney said the couple simply became overwhelmed with the costs.

"The animals cost $20,000 a month to feed and they got into a cash flow crisis," said Ryan McGuigan, the Olajos' attorney. "They were trying to get rid of the horses, but they were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The irony of it is that they love the horses so they couldn't do what some people would probably, realistically have done and that is to put some of the horses down."

During a civil hearing last week, the couple chose to settle. They permanently turned over the animals to the state.

The animals should be up for adoption in the coming weeks and months, officials said.

The couple will appear in court again next month.

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