Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16926
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: cat, horse
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): William Entwisle
Defense(s): Stephen C. Smith
Judge(s): Kevin Cuddy


For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.



Wednesday, Oct 6, 2010

County: Hancock

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Jeanmarie C. Ahern

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

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.

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.


Case Updates

A Dedham woman has been found guilty of a civil charge of cruelty to animals.

Jeanmarie Ahern, 42, has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and prohibited from owning or possessing any horses or other related hoofed four-legged animals for two years, according to documents filed in Hancock County Superior Court.

Justice Kevin Cuddy, who presided over the two-day, non-jury civil trial, on March 10 ordered Ahern's animals be sold or placed for adoption by the state Maine Animal Welfare program. He also set a deadline of March 10, 2013, for paying the $1,000 fine. Ahern had gone to trial to contest the seizure in an attempt to have her six horses and two cats returned to her at her Bald Mountain Road property.

In contesting the allegations, Ahern testified last week that she had made arrangements for a friend to look after her animals while she was out of state in late September and early October 2010, when the animals were seized by the state. She said that while she was away, her friend was trying to clean up the property, a water pump broke, and her house was ransacked in a burglary. She said that when she was home, there was a barn on an adjacent property that she could lead her animals to in case she felt they needed shelter.

In his March 10 decision, Cuddy wrote that Ahern did not do enough to provide shelter or care for her animals. For several months, Ahern failed to provide adequate shelter for her animals, despite encouragement from District Animal Humane Agent Christina Perry to do so, the judge wrote. Ahern lived by herself in 2009 and 2010 and held as many as four jobs in order to support herself, he added.

Ahern was summoned by Maine Animal Welfare on the civil cruelty to animals charge in January 2010 after one of two vinyl shelters she had on the property for the horses collapsed in a snowstorm. Ahern, who had been told by state officials before the structure's collapse that she needed to provide better shelter for her horses, did not repair or replace the collapsed structure.

Further, when Ahern was out of state attending the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last fall, the horses were observed to be unattended and without water, shelter and accessible food, Cuddy wrote in the order. Witnesses at the trial testified that at other times, the animals were subjected to the same conditions and were known to escape into the road and onto neighboring properties, the judge wrote.

The animals were not subjected to immediate, life-threatening conditions when they were seized, according to Cuddy, but subsequent medical examinations revealed multiple medical problems among the cats and most horses, including inappropriate foot treatment. The cats, he added, were underweight and suffered from roundworms and fleas.

Evidence in the trial reflected "a pattern of cruel treatment and cruel abandonment of the horses and cats," Cuddy wrote. "While the defendant may have the heart to care for horses and a sense of what should be done, she lacks either the financial ability or time to invest in caring for the horses or cats for which she has assumed responsibility."

Attempts Monday night and Tuesday morning to contact Ahern's defense attorney, Stephen C. Smith of Bangor, were unsuccessful. Efforts to contact Ahern also were unsuccessful.

William Entwisle, the prosecutor in the case, said Tuesday that he agreed with Cuddy's decision to prohibit Ahern from owning horses or similar animals for two years. With her having treated the seized animals cruelly, he said, it would not make any sense to permit Ahern to get new horses right away.

"I fully support that," Entwisle said. The ban "is eminently appropriate under these facts."
Source: bangordailynews.com - Mar 15, 2011
Update posted on Mar 15, 2011 - 8:55PM 
The trial of a Dedham woman charged with animal cruelty got under way last Friday but is not expected to resume for another two weeks, according to an attorney involved in the case.

Jean Marie Ahern, 42, is facing two civil charges of cruelty to animals in Ellsworth District Court.

Ahern's defense attorney, Stephen C. Smith of Bangor, indicated Monday in an e-mail that the prosecution and the defense each called witnesses Friday but have had difficulty scheduling the availability of witnesses, which include veterinarians and others. The trial, which likely will last another half-day, is not expected to resume until March 8 because of scheduling difficulties, he indicated.

Smith also indicated that the state is arguing that Ahern's horses did not have adequate shelter. He countered, however, that the horses were well cared for and that there was shelter they could be led into.

The "wildly exaggerated" accusations came to a head last October, Smith wrote, when Ahern traveled out of state and friends who were caring for the animals during her absence had trouble getting water to the horses after a water pump broke.

"This really is about some neighbors who didn't like the horses occasionally getting out," Smith wrote.

Attempts on Monday, a state holiday, to contact the prosecutor in the case, Assistant Hancock County District Attorney William Entwisle, were unsuccessful.
Source: bangordailynews.com - Feb 21, 2011
Update posted on Feb 22, 2011 - 10:28PM 
The owner of those seized animals is trying to get them back. Meanwhile, animal welfare agents and the district attorney's office are at odds on whether or not she's fit to have them back.

Animal welfare officials say the horses rescued from a house on Bald Mountain Drive in Dedham, have gotten better. Christine Fraser, a state veterinarian with the Animal Welfare Program. "They're doing well," she says. "They've been given proper shelter and food and medical care and they're all coming around and getting to be in healthy condition."

The animal welfare agents who seized six horses and at least two cats from owner Jean Marie Ahearn are outraged. They say a proposed plea deal is in the works between the district attorney and Ahearn's lawyer that could send the animals right back where they came from. "There is some discussion between the D.A.'s office and the defense attorney."

Monday a judge in Ellsworth continued the case until next month. Ahearn was not in court, but some of the neighbors, like Pauline Allen who was one of the first to report the alleged abuse did show up. They still remember what life had been like for those animals. "I've seen them out in snowstorms, they had no place to get shelter. hot days they're just out in that small pen, the horse flies are horrible in that area," Allen says. "They don't look like they have any water."

Animal welfare agents and and neighbors are concerned that after investing more than two years in this case, the horses will be returned to that environment as part of a plea bargain, without a hearing. "I think those people, they've lived with this situation for years as well, and I think everyone is at the point of frustration and we need to get our day in court on this case," says Fraser.

Pauline Allen says if Ahearn gets the horses back she'll certainly be watching. "I live out there. If, for some reason, they do give the horses back to her, I will be watching and I will be reporting what I see."
Source: wabi.tv - Nov 22, 2010
Update posted on Nov 24, 2010 - 8:42PM 

References

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