March 29, 2020

6 horses, dead llama seized in Sedgwick

SEDGWICK – State animal welfare officials removed six horses from a Sedgwick farm on Sunday, citing concern for their safety after a dead llama was discovered at the same location.

The horses, including a mare with a young foal, were malnourished, according to Dr. Christine Fraser, a veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Division.

“One horse was extremely thin,” Fraser said Tuesday. “We use a scale of 1 to 9 with 5 being ideal. Based on the report from the agent on the scene, [the horse] was a 1. She was extremely emaciated. She had a foal by her side and was in a life-threatening condition.”

Animal welfare agent Chrissy Perry was called to the family farm on Route 176 on Sunday after the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a dead llama on the property. Perry was familiar with the farm and had been working with owner Lisa Govini to improve the care of the animals, Fraser said.

But the death of the llama, coupled with the horses’ conditions and winter coming on, made the situation “a lot more critical,” she said.

State officials removed the body of the dead llama and already have conducted a necropsy on it. Technicians are conducting tests on samples before determining the cause of death, Fraser said. Results should be available by the end of the week.

Although the cause of death has not been determined, Fraser said the llama also was emaciated.

Several other animals, including some cats and goats, whose conditions were not considered life-threatening, were not removed from the farm. Perry will follow up on their conditions, according to Fraser.

It will be up to the district attorney’s office to decide whether Govini will face any charges in connection with her care of the animals. Once Perry has completed her report, it will be sent the district attorney’s office for review.

The state will go to court as soon as possible to have possession of the animals formally assigned to the welfare division. The date of that hearing will depend on the court’s schedule, Fraser said.

Meanwhile, the horses are being cared for at an unidentified animal rehabilitation shelter where they will be evaluated and treated.

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