Shelter for 20 horses, other animals

SPRINGVALE, Maine – Twenty horses seized from a farm in Deering Neighborhood Road are now receiving the care they need, according to the state.

Some were on the verge of death, according to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA), the Windham-based nonprofit that now looks after equines.

Most of the horses had lice. One of them had to be hospitalized at the New England Equine Medical and Surgical Center in Dover, New Hampshire. Not all of them had received the attention of a veterinarian. No care for their hooves. No vaccines. No dental work.

“The owner has not met his basic needs,” MSSPA CEO Meris Bickford said on Tuesday.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry seized the horses on July 14 and rescued other animals, as well as birds and lizards.

Eleven chickens. Six dogs and six cats. Three rats. Pairs of pigs and geckos. A bearded dragon. All were taken to shelters across the region, including the Animal Welfare Society in West Kennebunk.

In a press release, the ministry’s Animal Care Program (AWP) said the owner had admitted his inability to care for the animals and had been given a life-long ban on animal possession. The owner returned the animals but was allowed to keep two dogs and two cats, according to the AWP. In five years, she will be able to ask the courts to change the ban.

Previously: Sanford farm returns 20 neglected horses, plus chickens, pigs, dogs and more

Officials say the owner said she saved the animals but then couldn’t get the care they needed.

Bickford said there had been “quite a bit of neglect” on the property. By law, she said, people with dependent animals are required to provide them with the basics: food, water, shelter and necessary medical care.

“These animals weren’t getting that,” she said.

The owner will not be charged with misdemeanors. In the state press release, AWP Director Liam Hughes said he was happy with the outcome.

More animals rescued: New Hampshire SPCA saves more than 60 rabbits, five horses in two animal neglect cases

“Animals are given the medical care and attention they need to thrive,” said Hughes. “We are extremely grateful to all of the animal shelter organizations, animal control officers and volunteers who have worked together for this important cause.”

In addition to the Windham and West Kennebunk shelters, the AWP acknowledged the support it received from the Harvest Hills Shelter in Fryeburg, local animal control officers and dog handlers, the Sanford Police Department and from the York County Sheriff’s Office.

“These professionals took care of the animals and showed compassion to the owner. Without this group of people, this rescue would not have been possible, ”said the AWP.

The rescue almost doubled the number of horses taken in by the MSSPA

The MSSPA takes in neglected and abused horses, rehabilitates them, trains or recycles them, and then offers them for adoption, according to Bickford.

The 25-plus horses that were already in the organization’s care are available for adoption, Bickford said, but it will be a few months before those seized in Springvale are available for new homes. All 20 horses underwent preliminary veterinary examinations.

Bickford encouraged those interested in adopting Springvale horses to stay tuned to the organization’s website,, which will post photos of them once they’re ready. During this time, people can submit an advance request and even make reservations online to visit the MSSPA farm and meet the horses.

With the farm’s horse population nearly doubling, the organization is accepting donations, which they still need to help them in their mission, Bickford said.

Small animals already for adoption

Rats and lizards have gone to West Kennebunk. AWS director of marketing and communications Stephanie Kelley said on Tuesday the rats had already been adopted.

“They went to a really good house,” Kelley said. “They are very nice pets. They are very intelligent, they love to snuggle up with their people and they are entertaining.

As are lizards, a few of which are still available for adoption, Kelley added.

“We usually don’t have lizards as often as our furry friends,” Kelley said. “They are fun to watch. They eat insects … They are vocal and entertaining.

They’re a bit more labor-intensive than rats and other pets, Kelley added. They need certain foods and a special environment, as they are used to more arid climates.

Kelley said AWS welcomes donations to help care for the lizards. Gift certificates to pet stores are particularly popular, she added. If you would like to donate, visit the shelter online,

Adoptions of all animals at the shelter are by appointment, which can be made by calling (207) 985-3244 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. During these appointments, future pet owners can meet the animal they wish to adopt and talk to a specialist about their care.

“If that sounds like a good match, you can bring your pet home, then and there,” Kelley said.

State animal seizures are rare in the region, according to Kelley.

“It’s not very common,” she says. “It happens once or twice a year. Seizing animals is often a last resort, and we are here to support the state and ensure the welfare of all animals.

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