FoA says Redding woman is a danger to horses

By Nicole Rivard

When animal control officers from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture seized two mustang mares, Chinook and Cheyenne, from Lisa Lind-Larsen of Redding back in July, it was obvious they were dangerously thin. 

But Dr. Thor Hyypa, the vet on call for the state of Connecticut who has been an equine vet for 30 years, testified during a civil action hearing in Hartford County Courthouse Sept. 4 that the situation was direr than it looked—neither horse had any fat content, which means they lacked any nutritional reserve to bolster their immune system, making them susceptible to disease. 

Hyypa explained that Chinook and Cheyenne scored a 1 out of 9 when he administered the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System, a scientific method of evaluating a horse’s body condition regardless of breed, body type, sex or age. It is now widely used by law enforcement agencies as an objective method of scoring a horse’s body condition in horse cruelty cases. The chart rates the horses on a scale of 1 to 9. A score of 1 is considered poor or emaciated with no body fat. Horse veterinarians consider a body score of between 4 and 7 as acceptable. 

In addition, Cheyenne’s hind legs were extremely weak and she was anemic. Chinook’s temperature was lower than normal and she had thrush, a bacterial infection that usually settles in the frog of the foot, but can spread throughout the hoof and cause permanent lameness if not treated promptly. Hyypa also pointed out Chinook was stocking up in her hind legs, which means they were accumulating fluid and swollen due to poor circulation. 

The Department of Agriculture filed the civil action suit for Chinook and Cheyenne after Lind-Larsen pleaded not guilty to the animal cruelty charges and tried to get the horses back. 

“We think Lind-Larsen is a danger to horses and all animals,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of animals, who attended the civil action hearing to show support for the prosecution. FoA will also be in court in Danbury Sept. 17 when Lind-Larsen faces her criminal charges.

“We are hoping for tough, creative sentencing that not only results in the maximum penalty of a year in prison and/or $1,000 fine, we support sentencing that prevents Lind-Larsen from ever acquiring a horse, or any other animal for that matter, ever again,” Feral said. “Lind-Larsen had excuses for everything and blamed everything on other people and circumstances rather than be held accountable. But she is the one who failed. These horses don’t deserve to be subjected to her inability to resolve any type of crisis. Her mistakes only haunt and harm Chinook and Cheyenne.”

Due to blatant stall tactics by Lind-Larsen, the judge was not able to rule on the case. The judge is expected to make a ruling in November. 

In the meantime, Chinook and Cheyenne are recovering in Niantic at a rehabilitation facility. FoA has offered to support their recovery and assist with finding them a permanent home at sanctuary. 

Lind-Larsen has had the mustangs since August 2004, when she acquired them from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program. 

This case hits home for Friends of Animals, as the organization just returned home from a protest of the BLM in Wyoming. When Friends of Animals learned back in July that the BLM’s scheduled wild horse roundup would eliminate almost all wild horses (800 to be exact) on the 1.2 million acre checkerboard land (alternating one mile square sections of private and public land for 20 miles on either side of Interstate 80) within three Herd Management Areas (HMA) in Wyoming, the organization sprang into action. It joined four other wild horse advocacy groups and organized a protest and press conference outside the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting on Aug. 24 in Riverton, Wy. 

FoA staff members also spoke out during the public comment period about the plight of all wild horses, not just those in Wyoming.

FoA’s message was clear to the group that advises on national policy for wild horses—the BLM needs to lower the number of livestock on public lands, not wild horses—and stop being bullied by ranchers. They held banners and signs that read: BLM + Ranchers=Thieves, Stop Stealing Wild Horses from Public Lands; and Stop the BLM’s Criminal Reign of Terror, Protect Wild Horses Under Endangered Species Act.

The case of animal cruelty in Connecticut demonstrates that the abuse caused from these roundups is far reaching. Who knows how many other horses ripped from their families on the range experience similar fates as Chinook and Cheyenne through the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program?