5 horses seized after tip about 'unhealthy' conditions in Chichester
CHICHESTER - After removing five horses from what authorities described as poor living conditions inside a Northfield barn Friday, volunteers at the Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester renamed each to reflect the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy.
The four stallions were dubbed Churchill, Patton, Normandy and (Operation) Neptune, and the mare was renamed Rosie (the Riveter).
"When animals come from bad situations, we leave their past behind when we bring them in," said Teresa Paradis, executive director at Live and Let Live Farm.
Paradis said Northfield police and state officials asked her to accept the horses. Authorities had seized them after receiving a tip that prompted a search of property owned by Bert Southwick at 85 Zion Hill Road, police said. Authorities said they found the animals living in an "unhealthy environment."
Southwick, 90, is known locally as The Egg Man because he had delivered eggs to local residents via horse and cart for 75 years before retiring a few years ago.
Northfield police Sgt. Michael Hutchinson said neither Southwick nor part-time farm caretaker Harold Kelley are likely to face charges. Investigators will, however, consider the actions of the horses' owners, who boarded the animals at Southwick's, Hutchinson said.
Still, Kelley said he doesn't feel due process was followed in the seizing of the horses, one of which he said was his.
"The barn was dirty. I'll admit it," he said. "But without extra help, there was only so much I could do."
Kelley blames a communication breakdown between him and state officials.
"If it was a matter of taking the horses out of the barn, that could have been remedied," he said. "But this has been blown out of the water way more than it should have been."
Paradis, however, said what she's seen and been told justifies the seizure.
"The living conditions in the barn they lived in was horrendous ... the odor was unbelievable ... and your eyes burned," she said.
There are still at least six mares living outside the barn on Southwick's property. Hutchinson said state pasture laws allow the horses, which have been evaluated and deemed healthy, to stay.
Paradis said her farm will be prepared should any additional animals need to be placed. The farm is a nonprofit organization operated by hundreds of volunteers, dozens of whom helped with the Northfield seizure.