Repeat Offender Facing Charges in Hoarding CasePosted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on January 22nd, 2010
In December 2009, over 35 animals – including 19 horses and three mules
– were seized by authorities from alleged neglect which reportedly
included filthy and hazardous stable conditions, inadequate food and
water, and failure to provide veterinary care. Paul Anthony Novicki and Rambling River Ranch owner Gina S. Rapuano
of New Haven, Connecticut are now facing a total of 33 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, with
Ms. Rapuano additionally facing multiple felony counts of forgery and
evidence-tampering. The animals have since been forfeited over to
authorities and are recovering.
Online records reflect previous animal cruelty cases against Paul Novicki who was convicted in 2003, 2006 and 2008, with various probation violations resulting in additional arrests.
The recidivism rate among animal hoarders approaches 100%. While the criminal justice system may not be the ideal venue for accomplishing mental health interventions, the cyclical criminal suffering of so many animals demands the participation of the courts – where psychological treatment should be meaningfully pursued. The pathology of animal hoarding is not fully understood, and the method of treatment should be deliberately considered case by case. The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), among its other resources, has released a paper which seeks to inform therapists who find themselves addressing a case of animal hoarding.
While animal hoarding is usually presented in the context of cats and dogs, it is not uncommon for farm animals to be victimized by this type of abuse. Indeed, given the rural, often remote locations chosen by animal hoarders, and the added demands of large animal care requirements, discovery and intervention in these cases is all the more challenging for humane agents. Those who hoard horses often present themselves as “rescuers” who are nursing animals who reportedly came to them malnourished – this claim will often impede an investigation’s progress, at least temporarily. Though seemingly impossible given how limited their means usually appear, some hoarders are capable of relocating quickly to avoid law enforcement, moving themselves and their horses virtually overnight.
How you can help:
- Send an email to the State's Attorney to thank him for a strong and thorough prosecution, and for seeking
meaningful sentences that address recidivism issues upon conviction.
- Locals may support the prosecution by attending court proceedings.
Pre-trial hearing dates are currently scheduled for January 27 and
February 4, 2010. (Always contact the Court to confirm court dates and
locations as they are subject to change.)
Clerk of the Court
Judicial District at New Haven
235 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
case #NNH -CR10-0256643-T (Novicki)
case #NNH -CR10-0256644-T (Rapuano)
- Work with your state legislators toward a “First Strike and You’re Out” law. ALDF drafted this model law to address the issue of repeat offenders and the cruel and costly toll they take on their communities.