AR-News: (CT - US) States takes 29 horses from "owner, " probles possible cruelty

Snugglezzz at Snugglezzz at
Fri Jul 4 22:59:56 EDT 2003

                        State takes 29 horses from owner, probes possible 
animal cruelty 
Ann DeMatteo , North Bureau Chief   07/03/2003  
The state Department of Agriculture is investigating whether a Hamden man 
should be charged with animal cruelty or neglect after officers confiscated 29 
horses that appeared to be dehydrated from his land in Hamden and North Haven 

Acting Agriculture Commissioner Bruce Gresczyk said Wednesday that he and 
members of his department, assisted by police from Hamden and North Haven, 
removed 29 horses, a mule, several chickens and a Scottish Highlander steer or bull 
from property at 50 Doolittle Lane, Hamden, and a corral at 101 King’s 
Highway, North Haven, because the animals seemed to be in poor condition.

Hamden police identified the property owner as Paul Novicki, 56, of 50 
Doolittle Lane. Novicki has been an electrical and construction contractor.

Wallingford police arrested Novicki late Tuesday night and charged him with 
sixth-degree larceny after an undercover officer allegedly saw him taking 
galvanized piping from a state construction site. Police said they set up 
surveillance at the site on Route 68 after materials were stolen there last week.

Gresczyk on Wednesday would not characterize the exact condition of the 
animals, saying they are now being examined and cared for at a barn on the grounds 
of the Gates Correctional Institution in East Lyme.

State officials did not find any dead animals, he said. Sheep that were on 
the property could not be caught. Hamden Animal Control Officer Jean Murray said 
two appeared to have been sheared recently and two others were dirty and had 
matted fleece.

State inspectors were in Hamden and North Haven Monday. When the 
search-and-seizure warrant was executed Wednesday morning, Murray said, Novicki insisted 
he took good care of his animals.

Novicki could not be located for comment Wednesday.

"We thought we had probable cause to apply for a search-and-seizure warrant," 
said Gresczyk, explaining that officials were worried that the horses were 
dehydrated and hungry.

He had no answers for the property owner’s actions. "We’re doing what we 
feel is prudent and appropriate," he said.

"It was a sad situation to see all those horses. It’s more neglect than 
cruelty," said Murray. "How can one person afford, and have the time, to take care 
of 20 horses?" 

She has been monitoring lack of food, hay and water at the Doolittle Lane 
property since earlier this year.

Wednesday’s seizure marks the largest number of horses taken from a property 
by the Agriculture Department. Novicki could face arrest after an 
investigation into the animals’ medical conditions, Gresczyk said.

Murray contacted the state about the problem several months ago, and state 
agricultural inspectors have been monitoring the situation since. Gresczyk said 
the animals were taken away because no improvement was seen in their 
condition, even after people from his staff discussed the matter with Novicki on 
numerous occasions.

The department’s standard operating procedure is to work with property owners 
before resorting to actions such as confiscation.

There was no shelter for the animals, even in the snow, and "no food or no 
water, many, many times," Murray said. "They were coming off the property 
constantly. They were hungry. They went looking for food. Some were very, very thin. 
You could see their ribs and haunches with bones sticking up. Two babies 
(horses) were so thin I felt like putting blankets on them and putting them 
underneath my arm."

Murray suspects that sometimes the horses were not fed for two or three days 
at a time.

Ann DeMatteo can be reached at <A HREF="mailto:adematteo at">adematteo at</A> or 269-1496. 
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