Rescuing horses after couple arrested

By Mary Ann Bopp, Development Director, Pets Alive Middletown

Here at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, we never know when we’ll get the next call about an animal in need. It could be any day or night; neglect doesn’t discriminate. Such was the case when we got a call on Tuesday, September 1. New York State Police arrested Steven and Loretta Doss of Port Jervis for failure to provide proper care for their animals following the investigation of a citizen complaint.  Police discovered 48 rabbits, three horses, three cows, three goats, a pot-bellied pig, a dog, and a cat that were not properly cared for at a leased farm in Minisink where the couple housed the animals. The animals were seized and sent to various rescues and animal organizations for care – including Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary.

(Please note that all pictures shown here were taken at Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary located at 363 Derby Road, Middletown, NY.)

Horse 1Our Farm Manager, Cindy O’Brien was quick on the scene after getting the call from Dr. Dinah Skorich from Pine Bush Equine, who was already at the location with New York State Police. They wanted us to take the horses. We have an 80-acre property with various barns and horse stalls and are one of the few rescues that have the ability to properly house and care for horses. This type of rescue is not new to Pets Alive. We have been involved with various animal rescues requiring our intervention and have partnered with local authorities as part of these other rescues.

Horse 3It didn’t take long for Cindy and our Dog Manager, Juan Guitarrero, to pack up our truck and horse trailer and head over to the scene. Upon surveying the situation, Cindy first noticed the horses’ bodies – they were were severely underweight. Two horses were more underweight than the third and had body scores between 2.0 – 3.5 — a body score of 5.0 is considered a healthy weight with 9.0 on the high end. The horses and other animals were also living in a very confined and unsanitary space. It appeared it had been a while since the horses had roamed free in a larger space to graze.

Horse 2While Cindy and Juan were there, they also helped contact other rescue groups to find placement for the other animals. Police were assisted by the New York State Environmental Conservation Police, the Humane Society of Port Jervis and Deerpark, Port Jervis Animal Control, the Port Jervis Building Inspector, Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen, NY in addition to Pets Alive. We also called upon a local resident, Russell Hennig, who helped us transport the three horses. It was truly a team effort.

We are proud of our continued partnership with local law enforcement said Audrey Lodato, Executive Director. These types of relationships with local area rescue groups means that in a situation like this one, we can all move quickly to get the animals to safety. Speed of rescue can often make the difference between life and death for an animal in poor physical health. We’re happy we were able to assist in this seizure.

The Doss’ were issued appearance tickets to appear in Town of Minisink Court on September 21st at 5:00 PM and released. In the meantime, we will be caring for the 3 horses on our 80-acre property, and getting them back to good health. They will each have their own stall, a field to graze and plenty of space to spend a lazy afternoon soaking up the sunshine – and they will get the needed love and attention by Pets Alive staff and volunteers, something they have missed in a long while.

If you would like to help us care for these horses and bring them back to health, you can make a donation at Pets Alive, Attn: Horse Rescue, 363 Derby Road, Middletown, NY 10940 or make an online donation by clicking HERE.

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11 Responses to Rescuing horses after couple arrested

  1. Kathy Cahill-Epstein says:

    I’m so torn about all that has been going on at PAW and PAM. I have been going through my comments and deleting ALL the negative ones due to, in my opinion, lack of knowledge and education. And here it is, in my email, another opportunity, “to CHOOSE to do the right thing”. Thank you for giving me the chance to “witness” the err of my ways. Speaking for myself, I am blessed to have gone back in time and renewed my beautiful thoughts and memories of all I was able to do for all…and this, I thank you for. You have made my dream came true with finding “Bandit/Spirit” (ROTTIE @ PAW) his forever home. My focus, moving forward, will be all you have conquered in the past, current and future endeavors…Kathy and Spirit

    • Mary Ann Bopp says:

      Kathy, thank you so very much for your comments – it is very much appreciated. Miracles happen every day in rescue. May Bandit/Spirit live a great life!

      • Hey Mary Ann…Thank you for your kind response. I had met my “Spirit” right before PAW came in. Needless to say, I had been with him for many years and then “life happens”. When we came back into the Elmsford location, I had only been able to see him three or four more times, ALWAYS kissing him good bye and telling him “Mommy loves you”. Short of the long story, I was in Boston/Salem, MA, for my daughter’s wedding. One of the bride’s maids (Carrin Michelle) ran to me and told me that he was being adopted that day. She told me that PAW had just posted that he was going home, thus the reason I was not able to say good bye. Because, thank God, “LIFE HAPPENS”…not just our’s, but his as well. I would place my bet on it, that HE CLEARLY WON THIS ONE…because, after all, “LIFE HAPPENS”. Here’s to you “Spirit/Bandit”…a job well done for all…

    • K Sullivan says:

      Glad to hear Bandit/Spirit is doing so well. Don’t forget it was Westchester that took care of him and have friends still associated with the history of our longer-termed dogs. Thanks again for giving this dog a home. He got so handsome, he made us proud. – Volunteer @ Westchester

  2. Bernadette Reisert says:

    Thanks for all you do…including letting me adopt the love of my life, Rosita (Apple Adobo).

  3. K Sullivan says:

    Although it is excellent that Middletown extends themselves to more horses, making 5 in total, but just how many horses can you keep per acreage? I believe the minimum lot size is three acres for the first horse kept and two acres for each additional horse, making it 11 acres. I know how expensive it is to maintain horses as I had 15 acres of land in the same area and we had 3 Arabians. With the additional other farm animals, I assume you are zoned appropriately to comply to same. I have not visited as yet, but it is on my agenda.

    • Mary Ann Bopp says:

      Kathy, we have multiple pastures and barns where the horses live. We do rotate them across the various areas as part of our pasture maintenance. About 4% of our entire annual budget is spent on our farm animals and we do have several supporters that help. We are appropriately zoned. When you come for a visit, I suggest speaking to our farm manager, Cindy O’Brien. She can talk to you about the care of our farm animals and answer your questions. Thank you.

  4. Honor Kirwan says:

    Thanks so much for taking in these poor horses and for all that Pets Alive does to help in these sad abuse cases. This important work reflects the mission of Pets Alive as a true animal “sanctuary”. It is wonderful that there is a safe place for animals to go and to live out their lives should they not be able to find an appropriate home elsewhere. Cindy O’Brien (not Brown!!!) is a wonderful advocate for these animals as well as an excellent caretaker and friend to them.

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