In what Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law enforcement chief Roy Gross called the worst case of animal neglect he can remember, the agency broke the lock on a padlocked barn in Calverton last week and removed 24 horses, ponies and other farm animals that had been deprived of food, water and routine care.
The three animals in the worst condition were taken to Hillcrest Stables on Middle Road in Riverhead. The others were being cared for at other locations.
Gross said Monday at a news conference at Hillcrest that the farm where the animals were found — he declined to name it — was in receivership, and the attorney handling financial matters for the property gave the Suffolk SPCA permission to take the animals away.
No charges have been filed against the owner, but the investigation is ongoing, Gross said. The agency was contacted about the horses by the Riverhead town police, which had received a tip about the conditions.
“They had no food or water,” Gross said. “The Riverhead Fire Department had to bring water out.”
Regina Benfante, the lead investigator for the SPCA, said the agency hoped to find people to adopt the animals.
“It’s a matter of nursing them back to health,” she said.
Darlene Wilcox, who has run Hillcrest Stables for more than two decades, said Monday that she offered to help out when the SPCA reached out to her last week.
“I may adopt this one myself,” she said as she held the halter of a skinny brown horse, which was so malnourished when taken away from the Calverton farm that it needed help to eat.
The SPCA is seeking donations of horse blankets, feed, water buckets and other stable equipment to care for the two dozen animals — including sheep, goats and a pig, — and is also looking for cash donations to help cover the cost of animal care. The agency can be contacted at 631-382-7722.