Case Snapshot
Case ID: 10114
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), horse
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Friday, Aug 4, 2006

County: Washington

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Nancy E. Poniatowski

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

A 17-year-old Arabian gelding horse, named Windy, and Buddy, a two-year-old Labrador retriever, both owned by Nancy E. Poniatowski, 44, of 524 Spring St., Rockville, were taken into custody by the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) on Aug. 4, 2006. Hopkinton Police and SPCA officials seized the animals, in a collaborative effort, after confirming animal neglect.

Case Updates

A Nov. 9th hearing marked the fourth time this case went before the court. Poniatowski was convicted of 2 counts mistreatment of animals, with a fine of $2,000 restitution. She lost ownership of the seized pets, and is required to undergo psychiatric evaluation and necessary treatment.

E.J. Finocchio, a veterinarian who examined both of the animals, verified the allegations against Poniatowski and stated that Windy's condition was the result of neglect.

After consulting with agent David A. Holden, the RISPCA representative for criminal cases, Finocchio confirmed that both animals were victims of cruelty. Windy was significantly malnourished, showing abnormal weight-loss around shoulder blades and the ribcage. Buddy, also a victim of malnutrition, suffered an infection from a wound and also contracted heartworm. "Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes," said Holden "Buddy was left outside all the time and was never inoculated, go figure."

According to the SPCA, Buddy, is doing much better and is currently undergoing treatment for heartworm. Treatment costs about $600 and takes up to 3 weeks. "He'll have to be kept quiet because he could have a stroke if his blood-flow is blocked," said Holden. The SPCA has had good luck treating animals for heartworm and feels Buddy return to normal.

Following the seizure of Windy, the RI SPCA placed advertisements for anyone willing to board the starving horse. Although the SPCA, located in East Providence, does house and care for many animal victims, a horse is too large and expensive for the facility to accommodate. One woman, whose name was not given, offered to care for Windy at a cost of $300 per week, to cover grain, Mazola corn oil, and high-quality hay. "She has a few [horses] of her own, some goats, and offered a temporary home," said Holden.

Following the trial's verdict, the temporary caretaker could officially adopt Windy. Holden took a moment to stress the rehabilitation of Windy, "After 12-13 years alone, now he has friends. He has a great body weight and is best friends with another horse."

Poniatowski turned herself in to Hopkinton Police on Sept. 20th, after SPCA officials had evaluated the case on several occasions along with Hopkinton patrolman David Whewell. "We like to investigate things before we seize the animals," explained Holden. "In small towns, this is a big deal and our goal is not to hurt anybody's reputation."

The SPCA received a tip regarding possible abuse by Poniatowski and further investigated the lead. In dealing with cases of animal cruelty, SPCA officials do not need a warrant to seize animals, according to Rhode Island General Laws title 4 chapter 1 section 21.

"We consider this a home-run for the animals," said Holden "getting custody is top priority." Holden wanted to express his gratitude for Hopkinton Town Solicitor Margaret Steele. "We couldn't ask for anybody more cooperative and sympathetic," commented Holden. "She offered a plea deal. We went to court four times. Other solicitors would have offered a better deal just to get it [trial] over with. We owe her and the police department a big thanks."

Justice was served in the Poniatowski case; it was a collaborative effort, one that Holden feels, "was the most cooperation, all over the state, I have ever dealt with."
Hopkinton Police Chief, Jack Scuncio, a self-proclaimed animal lover and owner of three dogs, hailed the efforts of the police department saying, "We cooperate with all agencies. This is a good verdict."

"The police not only protect people, but also animals," said Scuncio. "I can't understand how any human can do that to another living creature - that's why we're here - to protect life."

Poniatowski was unavailable for comment but her husband Stephen said, "The court's decision speaks for itself. We did what was necessary and will make any restitution as necessary.
Source: The Chariho times - Nov 16, 2006
Update posted on Nov 16, 2006 - 12:27PM 


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