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9 ponies rescued from Berkley breeding farm; 4 dead animals found on property

The owner is facing 13 counts of animal cruelty.

Animal Rescue League of Boston

Nine ponies were rescued from a breeding farm in Berkley, Massachusetts, earlier this year and the owner of the operation is facing multiple animal cruelty charges. 

Three ponies and one horse were found dead on the property, according to the Animal Rescue League of Boston and MSPCA Angell. 

Gary Bolger of Berkley is facing 13 counts of animal cruelty and is expected to be arraigned May 18 in Taunton District Court. 

The Animal Rescue League responded on March 6 to a call from animal inspectors in Berkley reporting chronically thin horses and deceased animals on the farm. A necropsy on one of the deceased ponies determined the cause of death was chronic starvation, officials said at a Tuesday press conference. 

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The owner cooperated in surrendering the remaining animals, according to officials.

Lt. Alan Borgal, an investigative specialist with the Animal Rescue League, said it was unclear how long the neglect had been happening since animal inspections had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Lots of times we see horse cases, they start to deteriorate in the cold weather and they get to a thin condition and whatever feed they’re getting, they’re burning up energy to basically stay healthy, alive,” he said.

Three of the nine surviving ponies, which officials said are Connemara ponies, were taken to the Animal Rescue League’s Animal Care and Adoption Center in Dedham, with the remaining six taken to the MSPCA’s Nevins Farm in Methuen. 

The three horses taken to Dedham are classified as “thin to emaciated, scoring between a two and three [out of nine] on the Henneke Equine scale,” according to the ARL. Meanwhile the animals under the care of the MSPCA registered between one and two on the Henneke Equine scale, classifying them as emaciated. 

The animals at both sites are on a refeeding plan and receiving veterinary and farrier care. The oldest animal is 15.

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Both organizations said the ponies will be made available for adoption once they have reached healthy weights and received the required care.

“They’re not feral horses, so to speak, but they haven’t been handled much and they’ve got to get used to being handled again,” Roger Lauze, the MSPCA’s Manager of Equine Rescue and Training, said during the press conference. “It will take a while before we can get them ready for adoption just because of that fact.”

Both organizations are accepting donations to help care for the horses in the meantime. 

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