Case Snapshot
Case ID: 7987
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), horse, cow
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Friday, Mar 31, 2006

County: Chenango

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Rosetta M. Irwin

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

More than 30 animals were removed from a Coventry property on April 4, days after a woman was charged with animal cruelty and dead horses and dogs were found at her residence, Chenango County sheriff's deputies said.

Rosetta M. Irwin, 49, of state Route 235, was charged March 31 with multiple counts of cruelty to animals, deputies said. She is to appear in Coventry Town Court at 7 p.m. on April 5.

Deputies said a report that animals weren't receiving proper food or shelter led to an investigation. Irwin was found to have eight dead horses, five dead dogs and a dead cat on her property and left unburied, deputies said.

On Tuesday, deputies executed a search warrant at the defendant's residence to remove remaining animals, and 15 horses, 15 dogs, one cow and three cats were taken away. The animals weren't receiving proper food and water, deputies said, and were kept in substandard conditions.

The dogs and cats were removed by the Chenango County SPCA and the Coventry dog-control officer.

The horses and cow were removed with assistance from Equine Rescue Resources of Pine Bush, MeadowGate Rescue and Rehabilitation of Newfield and a Chenango County horse rescue agency, deputies said. Other organizations also helped provide labor, equipment and temporary board.

Deputies said anyone wishing to help in the rescue and rehabilitation may contact the SPCA at 334-9724, MeadowGate Rescue at 564-7455, or the Chenango County Farm Bureau at 334-6061.


Case Updates

A Chenango County woman facing several counts of animal cruelty said she is hoping to be exonerated in court and to have her surviving animals returned.

But an animal rescuer and a sheriff's deputy who were at the town of Coventry home of Rosetta M. Irwin said there is clear evidence of neglect.

After investigating a complaint of animal neglect, Chenango County deputies found the carcasses of eight horses, five dogs and a cat Friday on Irwin's property on state Route 235.

No autopsies were performed on the animals, deputies said.

Irwin said the animals had died during the winter and were waiting to be buried.

None of the dead animals was visible from the road, Cobb said.

One animal rescuer who was at the scene said it appears that the animals who died starved and many were left lying where they died.

"It was like walking into Death Valley," said Colleen Segarra, president of Equine Rescue Resource.

Sgt. Rich Cobb of the sheriff's department said the dead animals had decayed extensively and would not be examined for a cause of death.

"There wasn't enough left to autopsy," Cobb said.

All that remained of the animals were bone and hide, he said.

In compliance with a state law that requires owners to bury dead animals within 72 hours of police notification, Irwin, 49, had the animals buried on her property Wednesday, Cobb said.

Cobb said the surviving cats were found in the house, while the surviving dogs - some chained and others running free - were found outside.

Segarra said her organization, the Chenango County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Meadowgate Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility on Tuesday removed Irwin's surviving animals, which included 15 dogs, three cats and a cow.

Irwin appeared in Coventry Town Court on Wednesday, and her case was adjourned until a later date.

She was also assigned Norwich lawyer Peter McBride to represent her because of a conflict of interest with the Chenango County Public Defender's Office. A staff member at the public defender's office said the SPCA had been represented by one of the lawyers there in the past.

Although Irwin said Thursday she wouldn't comment on why she had the animals or what may have happened to the ones that died, she said the picture painted by law enforcement and the animal rescuers is "grossly distorted."

"I feel that I definitely did not mistreat the animals," Irwin said. "I feel very sure that I can prove that in a court of law."

If Irwin can prove it, she could be allowed to get her animals back, said Chenango County SPCA Director Carol Hedlund.

Hedlund said the animals could be adopted out only after the case moves through the judicial process.

Segarra said some of the surviving horses were related to one another.

"They were kept in a herd situation," Segarra said.

Segarra said the cow and horses were found in a pasture and in Irwin's backyard. She said the more aggressive animals - including a 9-year-old stallion- got the "lion's share" of forage or whatever food was given them.

Segarra said people simply observing the animals may not recognize that they were malnourished.

"It was difficult (to tell) because of their winter coats," Segarra said.

But when someone got up close to the animals, their malnourishment became clearer, she said.

"When you touch the animal, all you feel is bone," Segarra said.

Hedlund said the dogs and cats are being sheltered by the SPCA, while the horses and cow have been taken in by Equine Resource Center in Pine Bush and Meadowgate Rescue and Rehabilitation of Newfield.

Hedlund, Segarra and Pam Watros of Meadowgate said the animals are responding well to their accommodations.

"We'd like to get them back on their feet and make sure they get a full recovery," Segarra said.

She said the horses had not been receiving the routine care and medical attention they needed, and the costs for her to house the six horses at her facility for a month and obtain medical attention would be around $3,000.
Source: The Daily Star - April 7, 2006
Update posted on Apr 7, 2006 - 9:56AM 

References

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