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Massena man’s horse abuse case adjourned again

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MASSENA - A Massena man charged with failing to provide proper care for his horses in May 2013 has had his case adjourned for another month.

Patrick J. O’Neil, 66, of 326 Haverstock Road, Massena, was charged by state police with 22 counts of animal cruelty for allegedly keeping his horses in a neglected, unsanitary and unhealthy condition on May 9, 2013.

Defense attorney Arman J. Nazarian appeared in court with O’Neil, but no progress was made in the case as Special Prosecutor James Monroe was not in attendance at the Massena man’s latest scheduled court appearance before Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow. Mr. Monroe was named a special prosecutor in the case since O’Neil had previously been represented by Mary E. Rain. She was elected district attorney in November.

Mr. Nazarian said he has had difficulty reaching Mr. Monroe. “He’s never contacted me,” he told Mr. Sharlow.

The court adjourned the case until June 18.

A Brasher Falls veterinarian said in May 2013 his examination of 26 horses on a farm on the Haverstock Road in the town of Massena revealed signs of poor management and husbandry.

Dr. Joel M. Nezezon was called to the farm as part of the investigation by state police. “All of the adult horses are in need of foot care and probably deworming. There was one severely lame mature paint mare and one debilitated undersized three-year-old paint stallion,” he said in the statement he provided to state police.

The young stallion had reportedly been born with a genitalia condition and since it was not cared for was debilitated by the inability to retract his penis.

He noted he found most of the horses in fair to good body condition and indicated three adult stallions were paddocked separately, but there were several intact males with the main herd, including four newborn foals.

“The horses are somewhat feral and difficult to handle. There is a carcass of a mature horse in the barn that had been there for some time, with evidence of other carcasses throughout the farm,” he noted in the report he provided to the police.

He said even though food and water were available, conditions were far from ideal for the animals.

“Recommendations would include foot care, deworming, dental work, treatment of the lame horse, euthanasia of the debilitated horse and the stallions should be separated from the mares of castrated to prevent further pregnancies or injuries within the herd,” Dr. Nezezon suggested.

The director of the Massena Humane Society, responding to complaints made to elected officials by O’Neil’s neighbor, met with O’Neil in the early afternoon hours of May 8, 2013. Heidi J. Bradish said she and O’Neil went out to the field and looked at the brown and white mare that was limping.

“The mare appeared to have more of an injury than a hoof problem. Patrick told me he wanted to trim the hooves, and he thought it would go away,” Ms. Bradish noted in her statement to police.

She said she noticed the other horses on the property all had bad feet and were in extremely bad condition from parasites.

“Patrick told me he would treat the horses for the parasites at the end of the month when he had money. Many of the mares are currently pregnant and should have not have parasites when they are pregnant,” she said.

She also told troopers she had seen one horse with bald patches and open wounds.

O’Neil was sentenced to probation for three years earlier this month in the town of Geddes Court for a misdemeanor animal cruelty conviction. The charge had been filed against O’Neil following the death of his black Labrador retriever, Ali, whom police say was locked inside a 100-degree car for nearly four hours on Sept. 2 when its owner was at the New York State Fair.

Following the reported death of O’Neil’s dog at the state fair, an online petition was launched on the website Change.org urging Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick to upgrade the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge to a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty. While the petition received more than 2,700 signatures, the misdemeanor charge remained.

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