WATERFORD, N.J. — A woman operating an equine sanctuary is scheduled to appear in Camden County Superior Court on July 24 to answer dozens of charges after allegedly neglecting the animals in her care.
Sarah Rabinowitz, 62, of Waterford, who operates Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary, was charged with with 57 counts of fourth degree “Causing Bodily Injury to a Living Animal or Creature by failing to provide the living animal or creature with necessary care.” She was also charged with five counts of “animal cruelty, by failing as the owner or as a person otherwise charged with the care of a living animal or creature, to provide the living animal or creature with necessary care, a disorderly persons offense,” according to a press release issued by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
According to that release:
On July 11, members of the Camden County Prosecutors Office met with law enforcement officers from the Waterford Township Police Department, agents from the NJSPCA, and a veterinarian from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture regarding an ongoing NJSPCA investigation into the conditions at the Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary located in Waterford Township, which houses approximately 70 animals.
As a result of this meeting, law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant authorizing entry onto the property to document the conditions of the property and the health and welfare of the horses, donkeys and other animals, which was executed on Friday, July 13, 2018. As a result of the search warrant, the owner of the property, Rabinowitz, was issued a court order mandating that immediate remedial measures be taken with regard to insufficient water sources and inadequate sheltering.
Law enforcement, the Department of Agriculture, and the NJSPCA will be monitoring the situation daily, and the investigation is ongoing, according to the release.
Rabinowitz told local television news crews that she was “not guilty” of what she is charged with.
She posted on Facebook on July 15: “This is an ordeal-we are obviously aggressively defending our case in court and I will be able at a later time to fill everyone in on the case. I am very grateful to all of you who have posted and messaged with support and offers of help and plan to respond to everyone individually so hang on if I haven't gotten to you.”
Shortly after that post the Labrador Hill Sanctuary page was removed. On July 15 on her personal page she wrote, "Hello All-due to continuous false information circulated and excessive threats to me and my family I have decided to delete my Facebook account."
Numerous Facebook posts disagree with Rabinowitz's assertions that nothing is wrong with the horses.
Ellen Strack who runs South Jersey Horse Rescue said "On July 1st, I received a few calls and messages about a farm with many horses in Camden County that had no water in the tubs. I know the farm and didn't do anything ....until a few days later someone sent me a picture of a dead pony. I asked the owner if I could meet her and she agreed I could come out on July 9th.
"I witnessed approximately 68 horses, donkeys and mules in terrible condition, with bones sticking out, huge maggot infested wounds, horses dragging their legs, bloody legs from fly bites. Scars from fly bites."
She filed a complaint with authorities and a few days later investigators were at the farm.
According to the affidavit for probable cause: investigators found inadequate water and shelter for the horses and all but one of the 29 horses examined were dehydrated. Several potential hazards to the horses were observed such as nails sticking out of shelter walls and fences.Some animals had injuries to their legs and eyes. Toxic weeds were noted.and netting used to hold the round bales of hay together was not removed.
At least one former owner came and took back her horse upon hearing the farm was under investigation. She had given the horse to another woman who then took him to Labrador Hill.
On July 17, a New Jersey Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley, with the consent of Rabinowitz, signed an order that allows individuals who can show proof of ownership to remove horses.Rabinowitz is to allow access onto the sanctuary for the purpose of having their horse examined by a licensed veterinarian to perform a Coggins test. A Coggins test is required prior to transporting any livestock within or outside the State of New Jersey. Once an owner has established ownership and provided proof of a negative Coggins test, the order allows the removal of the horse.
Any owner who seeks to remove a horse from the sanctuary in accordance with this process is asked to contact Investigator Timothy Lyons of the Waterford Township Police Department by e-mail at email@example.com. The email must include a description of the horse with name and photos if available, the name of the veterinarian who will be performing the Coggins test, proof of ownership of the horse and contact information include name, address and phone number.
Any questions on this process can be directed to Investigator Timothy Lyons at 856-767-2134 ext. 245.
According to the sanctuary’s web site, Labrador Hill Sanctuary Inc was established in 2000 and “is dedicated to providing land and sanctuary for the long-term care, training and rehabilitation of equines-donkeys, horses, ponies and mules-and to providing a humane education program for students of all ages and abilities. We are committed to the preservation of animal life-within the context of our own organization and as a societal approach to the guardianship of non-human cohabitants of the Earth. At the Sanctuary, we provide a natural setting for both wild and domestic animals with an eco-friendly approach to property and facilities.”
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