Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19861
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse, chicken
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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013

County: New Haven

Disposition: Not Charged
Case Images: 1 files available

Person of Interest: Karen Desrosiers

A horse with no water and "a container filled with rotting vegetables to eat."

An enclosure of fowl that were feeding off a dead chicken.

Buckets full of what appeared to be motor oil lying around.

A "foul stench."

Those were some of the conditions that allegedly greeted three animal control officers Feb. 22 when they went to investigate a complaint of roaming animals at a property on Condon Road in Oxford, according to a search warrant served at the property Feb. 26.

During the search, animal control officers seized 41 animals -- a horse, 18 chickens, four dogs, a cat, six turkeys, six guinea hens, a pig, a goat, a donkey and two miniature horses -- which have since been taken to various shelters and a rescue facility in Niantic.

The owner of the animals, Karen Desrosiers, has not been charged criminally, but an investigation is underway.

"The criminal investigation is still going on," Ray Connors, a supervisor with the animal control division of the state's Department of Agriculture, said March 5. "We're waiting on some results to come back from the veterinarian."

He did not get into specifics.

Meanwhile, he said a judge will decide next week whether to strip Desrosiers of ownership of the animals.

Connors said the state has filed a civil petition seeking ownership of the animals at Superior Court in Hartford and that a hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 11.

The animals, meanwhile, are OK, he said.

"Everything's fine. Everything's been examined by a vet," Connors said. "They're getting the care that they need to get."

Complaint Prompts Visit, Search

According to the search warrant, which was made public Tuesday at Superior Court in Derby, animal control officers were drawn to the property Feb. 22, two days after someone complained to Oxford Animal Control Officer Sandy Merry that "a mule or donkey and two horses" were roaming on Condon Road. The person said the animals had come from Desrosiers' property.

Merry, who along with Barbara Godejohn, a state animal control officer, wrote the search warrant, was familiar with Desrosiers' residence because of "prior cruelty complaints there."

The warrant says Merry alerted Godejohn about the complaint and that the two went there the afternoon of Feb. 22 with Richard Gregan, another state animal control officer.

Among other things, the three discovered animals without food or water, an enclosure of fowl feeding off a dead chicken, and "Santana," a horse without water and a container filled with rotting vegetables.

The horse's hooves were "overgrown, cracked, and splayed," the warrant says, and one of legs was "stocked up," or swollen.

Elsewhere on the property, the warrant alleges a thin, two-year-old donkey named "Edgar" roamed free, with a too-tight halter that left depressions on his face.

Edgar and other animals had what the officers deemed to be overgrown hooves, too, according to the warrant.

When asked to see what hay she was feeding them, the warrant says she told officers she had none. Asked to see feed, she showed them a bag of grain with a half-pound of feed at the bottom, according to the warrant.

It was, Desrosiers allegedly told the officers, all she had.

The warrant says she told the officers she was willing to get rid of the animals because "it was too much for her to take care of," but when Godejohn said the state could take the animals if she would sign them over, she was willing only to part with Santana, the horse.

Prior State Involvement

According to the search warrant, last month wasn't Santana's first run-in with state animal control officers.

Godejohn and Gregan had been at Desrosiers' residence in Apri 2010, the warrant says, "checking on two emaciated horses -- Santana and "Ranger," who she told officers has since died.

In 2010, the warrant says, Godejohn "gave (Desrosiers) a second chance," after which the animals did show subsequent improvement.

But during the same time period, the warrant says Godejohn had to threaten Desrosiers with cruelty charges unless a cow described as "very sick, coughing, thin and in trouble" wasn't taken to a vet.

After the prodding, Desrosiers got the cow medical attention, and after it and other animals showed improvement, the case "was turned over to the Oxford Animal Control for monitoring."

Connors said that won't be happening this time.

He said that at the hearing next week, a judge can grant the state ownership of the animals.

If that doesn't happen, he said Desrosiers will still have to post a bond for the cost of caring for the seized animals.

"That gets very expensive very quickly with that amount of animals," he said.


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