Rescued Horses in Legal Battle for Their Lives

Posted on October 3, 2005

Cricket, who could not chew or swallow, was humanely euthanized after removal from Palomino Palace.

(Ulster County, NY)

Attorneys representing the Animal Legal Defense
Fund filed a civil complaint in Ulster County Supreme Court on Friday
to prevent 19 abused horses from being returned to Mary Dawn Sitors,
who was charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals when the New
York State Police seized the seriously neglected animals from Palomino
Palace, her Schoharie County facility, this past February. ALDF’s
filing on behalf of Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), which has had
custody of the horses since they were seized early in 2005, seeks to
give permanent legal control and custody of the horses to CAS.

When the horses were removed from their hellish conditions at Palomino
Palace in February, three different veterinarians reported that they
were emaciated and dehydrated and were suffering from skin infections,
parasites, disfigured hooves and diarrhea. One horse, named Cricket,
was nearly 500 pounds underweight when she arrived at CAS, and so sick
she could no longer chew or swallow; she was humanely euthanized when
veterinarians determined that she was beyond recovery. Despite this,
earlier this month a Carlisle town court justice dismissed all 20
charges in the criminal animal neglect case against Sitors and issued
an order to CAS to return the remaining neglected 19 horses to their
owner. Fortunately, on March 14, 2006, that decision was overturned on
appeal to the Schoharie County Court, and the criminal charges have
been reinstated. The criminal case will now be sent back and scheduled
again for trial in the Town Court, before a different judge. ALDF’s
civil lawsuit, via the animal protection law firm of Egert and
Trakinski, along with Kingston, N.Y. attorney Eric Schneider, asks that
permanent custody of the horses be granted to CAS, where the horses are
now thriving. It is one of three legal avenues being pursued against

“These horses were kept in filthy and unsanitary conditions, deprived
of necessary sustenance and medical treatment, and, in some cases,
close to death at the time of their seizure,” states Len Egert, Esq.,
who is representing the animal protection groups ALDF and CAS in this
case. “We will employ whatever legal means are necessary to keep them
safe and healthy at their new home and prevent them from being returned
to their abuser.”

Complaints against Sitors date back as far as 1998. Kathy Stevens,
executive director of CAS, states, “This is not a case in which a
sudden illness or tragedy caused a short-term problem. This is chronic
abuse of scores of animals over a period of at least eight years. Our
mission is to provide a safe haven for animals, so we’re obligated to
do everything in our power to bring the suffering to an end."

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