Two bulls and a steer  — Artie, Robert and Steve —...

Two bulls and a steer  — Artie, Robert and Steve — were transferred Tuesday from a vacant Riverhead ranch to an animal sanctuary in New Jersey Credit: Humane Long Island

Two bulls and a steer were rescued Tuesday from a Riverhead property, joining nearly 100 other animals saved from the vacant ranch since a man was arrested earlier this month after killing a dog at the site.

Ten freezing piglets, 50 chickens and roosters, three cows, goats, sheep and a bunny have already been rescued from the property, which was described by Humane Long Island’s president and executive director John Di Leonardo as an unlicensed slaughterhouse and a “horror show.”

The bulls, named Artie, Robert and Steve, were taken by rescuers Tuesday to the Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve in Montague Township, New Jersey, Di Leonardo said.

Someone may have tried to steal the bulls Saturday because a hole been cut in the fence of an area containing the animals, he said.

“It was a horror show here,” Di Leonardo said from outside the ranch Tuesday. “There were dead animals all over the place and other animals living in filthy conditions.”

The animals were discovered on the property after a 1-year-old German shepherd was taken to a veterinary hospital in Westbury on Jan. 10. The dog, named Blitzkrieg, had been found shot and paralyzed in a pen on the property next to a dead goat. 

Investigators with the Suffolk County district attorney’s Biological, Environmental and Animal Safety Team were summoned and found eight other dogs living at the property. They also learned that Carlos Lauro, 76, had previously shot and killed a German shepherd puppy on there, prosecutors have said. 

Lauro pleaded guilty last week in court to the unjustified killing of an animal. He was sentenced to a year in jail and prohibited from owning any animals for at least 20 years. He was originally charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, three counts of neglect of an impounded animal and several unclassified misdemeanors.

Suffolk County prosecutors said Tuesday the case was closed and officials did not comment on pending charges. 

Di Leonardo said Lauro treated the property as an illegal slaughterhouse, advertising organic meat for sale by appointment only.

Authorities found the 10 freezing piglets, about 4 months old, shivering in a pile to stay warm. Two of the piglets were adopted at a vegan preserve in Pennsylvania. The other eight pigs are at a shelter awaiting new homes.

Di Leonardo said the bulls were frightened when they were discovered, hidden on an adjacent property next to Lauro's ranch. He said they have since become more friendly. 

“They've probably never had affection in their lives,” he said, “and now they're loving it.”

Many of the other animals were malnourished, underweight and sick, Di Leonardo said.

Several goats were also injured or limping, possibly due to lack of care or hoof trimmings, Di Leonardo said.

“They were stranded, and it was snowing,” Di Leonardo said. “There was no food or water for a week for the pigs. We scooped them up and got them into a pen with some hay.”

Gabrielle Stubbert, executive director of Tamerlaine Sanctuary & Preserve, said in a statement: “In light of recent distressing revelations, our hearts ache upon discovering the immense suffering and loss of innocent lives inflicted by Carlos Lauro. While the shocking nature of these findings saddens us, it underscores the pressing need for action. With nearly 100 legal slaughterhouses and wet markets still operating in the New York City area, it is imperative that we intensify our efforts to put an end to the unnecessary anguish endured by animals and the associated health risks posed to NYC residents.”

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