DEDHAM, Maine — Six horses and two cats were seized Wednesday from the residence of a local woman whom neighbors say left Maine a week ago without making arrangements for her animals’ care.
Jeanmarie C. Ahern, 42, of 856 Bald Mountain Road left her six horses — three males and three females — in two cramped enclosures near her mobile home without food or water, Chrissy Perry, a district humane agent for the Maine Animal Welfare Program, said Tuesday.
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Both enclosures were muddy and filled with feces.
Ahern called her horse farm Trinity Brookes Farm, Perry said Tuesday.
Perry said that one of Ahern’s cats was captured outside and another was found inside her mobile home.
The animals have been taken to an undisclosed location where they will have thorough medical examinations and receive any treatment they require, Perry said.
According to Perry, Wednesday’s seizure is the result of an investigation that began a year ago when the state received complaints that Ahern was not providing shelter for her horses, even in winter.
“There is a pending court action for her for cruelty to animals, but that has not been to trial yet,” Perry said Tuesday.
According to a court listing published in the Bangor Daily News, Ahern was fined $750 for cruelty to animals in May in Ellsworth District Court.
Perry declined to comment on the horses’ conditions but did say “there definitely were issues here or the horses would not have been removed.”
“It’s a bit of a different situation because the horses were left without food or water for a period of time so it made it a little bit more urgent than some other cases,” she said. “You definitely see horses that are malnourished, but there is someone attempting to do something with them.”
Neighbors said Tuesday that Ahern, who has lived on Bald Mountain Road for at least a decade, left the state on Thursday of last week, and they believe she might have brought a seventh horse, which they thought was a stallion, with her.
They said it was not uncommon for her to be gone for weeks at a time. They described her as somewhat of a recluse, saying that she rarely had visitors and sometimes would not come to the door when they brought over packages left for her by UPS.
They speculated that Ahern might be struggling financially because she has been using a generator for electricity and hauling kerosene for heat for more than a year.
They said the horses had not been adequately fed for some time and that Ahern tried to erect small shelters for them but that the shelters would collapse under the weight of the snow.
“This has been going on for almost two years,” Tyler Gilley, who lives next door, said early Tuesday afternoon as he, his sister and his fiancee watched Perry, Dedham Animal Control Officer Daniel Joy and others trying to coax Ahern’s horses into a large trailer.
“Everybody’s so happy to see them go,” he said, adding that passers-by were giving the “thumbs up” sign upon seeing the horses being removed.
“They come over and eat our garden,” his sister Colleen Gilley, 17, said. She said the horses visited so often that they wore a path through the grass between the two properties.
Tyler Gilley said he, his sister and his fiancee, Vanessa Davenport, had been trying to feed and water the animals as recently as this week.
“On Sunday, we tried to push hay closer to them, and then we realized they didn’t have any water,” Tyler Gilley said.
Davenport said that she had tried to feed the horses apples, but animal welfare personnel asked her not to because they needed to do blood work.
The neighbors also said that the horses occasionally got loose and went onto the road, nearly causing accidents.
“I was really worried because my sister just got her license and drives a little Chevy Cavalier,” he said, adding that he often sees skid marks on the road in front of Ahern’s farm, located beyond a curve and down a hill.
If convicted of animal cruelty, Ahern could be fined at least $500 per count, Perry said. She also could be subject to restitution, a lifetime ban from owning animals and jail time.