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Horses seized from Lyndonville farm - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Horses seized from Lyndonville farm

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LYNDONVILLE, Vt. -

Hayden Tanner of Sutton is one of the volunteers who helped remove 21 horses from the Bona Ranch in Lyndonville Saturday night.

The rescue was organized by Pat Mitchell of the Elizabeth Brown Humane Society. "Can you feel his ribs? Oh, yes put your hand on him, put your hand right here. He is dehydrated -- the body scores at a one, you go one to nine -- he is a one," Mitchell said.

The ranch had been on the radar of the Caledonia County Sheriff's Department. There were several complaints about a lack of food and water for the horses. The department was working with the owners about those concerns, but when a complaint came in Friday night about a dead horse on the grounds, the Sheriff's office got a search warrant for the Bona Ranch.

"On site at about 4:15 p.m. and the owner at that time relinquished the 21 horses and we had a vet on site as well as 30 or more volunteers and by ten that night we completed that process," said Dep. Adam Bergeron of the Caledonia County Sherriff's Department. Dep. Bergeron says he has personal knowledge of at least three dead horses at the farm and there could be twice that number.

The Bona Ranch in Lyndonville was owned by Fred Bona and his wife. They were well known for raising quarter horses, but Fred passed away about a year ago and his son Bruce Bona took over. For reasons unknown care for the horses declined.

"The investigation is ongoing. The horses are now in safe places. We are going to wait a few more days to relinquish the rights from our custody to the placement of where the horses are now -- Pending different questions still out there to be answered," Dep. Bergeron said.

Dep. Bergeron said this is one of several active abuse cases they are working on in the county. He said Bona has not been charged yet, but criminal charges will most likely be lodged.

You might think the number of alleged animal abuse cases would be discouraging to those who investigate  -- not to Dep. Bergeron. "When people see this on TV, it starts bringing people's awareness to the forefront and it's a good thing because people sometimes wouldn't normally make that call, are making those calls and it's bringing things to our attention that may otherwise go overlooked. It's not discouraging. It's encouraging that we can look at things we may otherwise not have been able to look at," Dep. Bergeron said.

Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarenden was also involved in this rescue. The group's Deb Loring says this is a busy time of year for rescues. "Our team responds to 50-60 complaints per year and certainly this time of year is the busiest. It's the end of the winter, obviously people have to get in a lot of hay over the course of the winter. Hay is very expensive, so we see people have a lot of difficulties managing, particularly cases where they have multiple horses," she said.

In fact these horses were so hungry they were eating the wooden fencing. "They have nothing left to give; they have given it all just to stay alive," Pat Mitchell said.

Horse owners who need help feeding their animals can get temporary help through the Vermont Hay Bank.

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