As you know, Friends of Animals has been showing up in court to show our support for Chinook and Cheyenne, two wild mustangs who were seized from Lisa Lind-Larsen, in Redding, Conn., where they were found starving and neglected. Today they are thriving at Second Chance Farm, a large animal rehabilitation facility located at the York Annex Correctional Facility in Niantic, Conn., made possible through a partnership between Department of Agriculture and the Department of Corrections. Our spring issue of Action Line includes a feature about Second Chance Farm and the animals who have been rescued because of it, like this goat, Beemer. Lind-Larsen’s trial date has not been set yet, but Friends of Animals will be there when the trial begins to make sure justice is served for Chinook and Cheyenne.
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By Nicole Rivard
When animal control officers seize horses from owners facing animal cruelty charges, they have to proceed with caution. Sometimes the abused animals may strike out or be defensive because of what they’ve experienced.
However, last July, when state animal control Officer Nancy Jarvis seized two wild mustangs, Chinook and Cheyenne, from a home in Redding, Conn., the horses willingly loaded on to the unfamiliar trailer headed for Second Chance Farm—a large animal rehabilitation facility located at the York Correctional Facility in Niantic, Conn.
“For horses who never had halters on them, they wanted out,” said Ray Connors, supervisor for the Animal Control Division of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. “I truly feel animals know that you have reached out to help. There is a special bond when you help an animal. The mustangs are especially kind toward Nancy Jarvis.”
“When I deal with these cases, I put my heart and soul in them…so you do form a bond,” Jarvis said, adding that she always brings Chinook and Cheyenne treats when it’s her turn to work at the farm, and she participates in their hands-on care. “I think they understand we are trying to help them.”
Jarvis found the mares—who were so badly emaciated that their ribs were showing under their fly-bitten skin—in stalls with manure eight inches deep and with water troughs filled with algae.
While at Second Chance, Chinook and Cheyenne have cooperated while being groomed and receiving medical care, including farrier work to improve their feet and dental work to fix their teeth. Chinook also had to undergo intravenous therapy for Lyme disease. By late fall, both mares had gotten back to the weight they should be. Friends of Animals is working with Second Chance to find a sanctuary that will enable the mares to live together.
“To watch the mustangs go from being that emaciated to seeing them doing well again is what gets you through this job,” said Jarvis. “I couldn’t do this job if I didn’t have the positive results on the other end. Sometimes it’s very hard…because you are dealing with really sick animals. If you have to euthanize it’s very hard, but sometimes it has to be done. Sometimes there is no bringing them back.”
Fortunately, there have been a lot of happy endings—like Chinook’s and Cheyenne’s—thanks to Second Chance Farm, which opened in 2003 and is a collaboration of the departments of agriculture and corrections. While some animals eventually get well enough to be placed in loving homes, some remain at Second Chance, like horses who have permanent lameness from untreated abscesses in their feet.
Connors fondly refers to them as “lifers.”
“We put corrective shoes on them to try and compensate and to make it easier for them to get around. As long as their quality of life remains good they stay with us,” Connors said.
Inmates from York Correctional can volunteer to receive minimal pay and work in partnership with agency personnel at Second Chance. The program is therapeutic for the animals and inmates, as they all work towards individual rehabilitation.
“You see the inmates get attached too,” Jarvis said, explaining that there is nothing like witnessing animals, at first very fearful of people, start to trust and then be handled.
More than 200 horses have been through Second Chance Farm, as well as other animals, like donkeys, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl and goats.
Connors felt a connection with one goat in particular, who he named Beemer. Someone had witnessed the goat being thrown in the trunk of a BMW at an auction. The person took the license plate number down and called state police, who then notified Connors. He got out of his sick bed on a rainy October night and went to East Hartford, Conn., to pick up the goat.
“It was this little baby goat, and a guy had him in the trunk of his car,” recalled Connors. “He was going to slaughter him in his garage.”
The man got charged with animal cruelty and Beemer was raised at Second Chance Farm. Beemer is now at the Last Post Animal sanctuary, where he has five acres to run around on and have a good time.
Prior to the establishment of Second Chance Farm, the Animal Control Division would rely on volunteers with barns to house animals, but when they had to seize a large number of animals, it became overwhelming.
Second Chance was the brainchild of former State Commissioner of Agriculture Bruce Gresczyk, who reached out to the Department of Corrections knowing it had an abundance of land at its facilities. The facility will mark a milestone this spring with its first expansion thanks to a $51,600 grant from the John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation through The Community Foundation of Northwest Connecticut. A new barn will be unveiled, complete with 23 pine-wood stalls. Connors said the old barn will be used for quarantining animals who come in and have an infectious disease as well as storage of equipment.
Donations to offset the cost of caring for neglected animals are crucial to the ongoing success of Second Chance. A few years ago, the facility was in jeopardy because of budget cuts. Chinook and Cheyenne’s story have helped put Second Chance back in the spotlight. Connors is grateful for donations that came in for them, since their vet bills had exceeded $10,000 back in December.
As annual vet bills typically exceed $100,000 a year for all the animals, every penny counts, says Connors…so every animal can have a second chance.
To make a donation, send a check to Animal Abuse Cost Recovery Account, c/o Connecticut Department of Agriculture. 165 Capitol Ave., Room G-A, Hartford, CT 06106.