CALAIS, Maine — A 55-year-old Meddybemps woman, whose horse was seized by the state in September, told a Calais District Court judge Thursday that she was on the brink of homelessness and unable to care for Angel, her sorrel-colored saddlebred mare.
Allyson B. Young also said that because she and her horse were a “herd” it was up to the state to find them a home together.
During the hearing, Judge John Romei ordered that the horse, whose ribs could be seen through its skin in pictures presented to the court, be forfeited to the state because the woman was unable to care for it.
Angel came to the attention of the state’s district humane agent May 21, after a local feed store owner notified Chrissy Perry, who works for the Animal Welfare Program of Maine, that Young did not have food for her horse. Young had contacted the store and when she learned they did not deliver became upset. Young said she did not have food to feed the horse, according to a complaint on file with the court.
Perry got in touch with Young. “Ms. Young stated that she had ended a 10-year abusive relation with her partner … and she did not have feed for the animals,” the complaint said. The woman also had cats and dogs but they were not the subjects of the forfeiture.
Perry agreed to deliver food to Young’s home, but could not do so for a few days because she was away on training. Young got upset, she said. “I could not talk with her because Ms. Young was shouting and the phone disconnected,” the complaint said.
Perry delivered hay and grain and other supplies to Young on May 24. Young said she had received a $50 gift card from her daughter for her birthday and asked Perry to take her grocery shopping. Because Perry was not allowed to take the woman in her state car, she got a list of what Young needed and delivered the groceries to her.
Young and Perry remained in contact. In June, Perry agreed to babysit Young’s animals while Young and her caseworker went to the state to complete paperwork so Young could qualify for state aid.
On June 17, Perry suggested Young place Angel with a horse rescue agency, but Young refused.
On Aug. 7, when Perry tried to deliver more donated feed to the woman, the road to her cottage was blocked by branches and boards that had nails sticking out of them, the complaint said. Young told Perry to leave the supplies by the gate. “She stated that her family was not going to let her stay there and she would never be able to be successful with being independent,” the complaint said. Young began to “shout” at Perry telling her not to return. The agent learned later that Young’s family had sent her an eviction notice, the complaint added.
Perry returned a few days later to check on Young’s well-being and Young told Perry to stay away.
On Sept. 23, Young sent a letter to the state animal welfare agency saying she had opened her last bale of hay for Angel and was desperate for food.
Perry requested a search warrant to check on the condition of Young’s horse and other domestic animals.
Days later, Perry, a deputy from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and a Maine state trooper went to Young’s residence. The two police officers went in first and when Perry arrived 10 minutes later they told her that things had not gone well. Young was inside the police cruiser shouting obscenities, the complaint said.
Perry removed Angel from the property. A veterinarian examined Angel and said the horse was underweight and had breathing and other health problems.
In court on Thursday, Young said she had had Angel since the horse was 9 years old.
She testified that her first husband had “dumped” her because she had not produced a male child and she hadn’t contributed enough money to the family income. She also said that the man she was living with most recently also had “dumped” her.
She said that the horse was now 25 years old and she and Angel had become a herd.
Young testified that the day police arrived to take Angel, she was upset. She claimed they had subjected her to “police brutality.” She said they yanked open the door to her house, pulled her out by her coat, slammed her to the ground and handcuffed her.
During his closing statement First Assistant District Attorney Paul Cavanaugh said that the state was sympathetic to Young’s problem but noted she admitted in court that she could not afford to care for the horse. “It’s not that Ms. Young didn’t want to care for the horse, she just couldn’t,” he said.
Young said in her closing statement that she believed that the state owed her and Angel a home. “I think the state should reward me for all of the love I have exercised for my pet,” she said.
Romei told Young that the state was not prepared to take care of her and her horse. He ordered the horse be forfeited to the state and urged Young to seek help from the Department of Health and Human Services.