Man, Woman Who Resided There
Facing Neglect, Marijuana Charges
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
GARRATTSVILLE – An electrified goose dead on the front lawn set the scene for horrors to follow at a 166 Backus Road farm about a half-mile from this hamlet:
• A dead goat’s carcass, fed on by nearby fenced-off pigs to stay alive.
• Pens where hens were packed so tight their feathers were rubbed off.
• A basement room where feces were piled so high deputies could barely force open the door to rescue the five dogs inside.
“This didn’t happen in days, or even months,” said Otsego County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Stalter, the department’s information officer, who this evening had been at the scene for almost 24 hours.
Sheriff’s deputies discovered all this and more after being called to the 26-acre Town of New Lisbon farm plot at 7 p.m. Friday after a passerby spotted the goose caught in the electrified fence.
When the first deputy arrived, she found the goose dead, deactivated the fence and, peering through a basement window, saw a large dog – one of two Pyrenees recovered, perhaps – squeezed into a small cage. On hearing other dogs barking inside, she summoned help.
“I think it’s one of our worst – certainly the largest,” Stalter said when asked to compare what he saw at 166 Backus Road to other animal cruelty cases. He said deputies found no animal feed on the property, and animals confined without water.
Neighbors said they hadn’t seen anybody at the property for a week or so. But Friday evening, deputies connected by phone with the man and woman who occupied the property.
They were downstate, but returned later that night, and were each arrested on five counts, including animal cruelty, growing marijuana and possession of marijuana, according to sheriff’s Inv. Jason Munson.
Munson, who was at the scene today, said the two had been arraigned in a local town court. The woman was free on bail. Both are due back in court later this month.
At midnight Friday, the phone rang at the home of Stacie Haynes, Susquehanna Animal Shelter director, alerting her that the shelter’s assistance might be needed.
Summoned at 2:30 a.m., she put together a crew, loaded up the van with blankets and other supplies and drove to the scene, arriving at 5:30 a.m.
The crew rescued nine dogs and one cat, including the two large Pyrenees. The animals were shaved to remove gnats, cleaned and treated, said Haynes.
She issued a plea at 4:03 p.m. today for people willing to adopt the animals.
By then, area farmers and veterinarians were already responding. By 5:30, seven donkeys, 13 chickens, three ducks, 13 sheep, 25 geese, seven rabbits, one Guinea hen, one pigeon and two parakeets were in the care of those Samaritans.
By 6:30 p.m., a team from Leatherstocking Veterinary Services, New Berlin, had a tractor with trailer attached, removing the 20 black-haired pigs, the only living animals remaining at the site.
In all, 101 or 102 animals were removed from the scene.
In addition to Munson and Stalter, Sgt. Jack Wilkens and Deputy Craig Morrison were at the scene. Stalter had been there since the evening before, and Deputy J. Smith, who was on the scene overnight, returned late this afternoon to resume his duties.