Press Releases


State Secures Custody of Neglected Horses and Announces Adoption Process

Attorney General William Tong and Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt today announced the state has secured custody of eight formerly malnourished and severely neglected horses seized from Laurel Ledge Farm in Oakdale. After extensive medical care and rehabilitation at the state’s Second Chance Large Animal Rehabilitation Program in Niantic, Attorney General Tong and Commissioner Hurlburt announced today the horses are available for public adoption.

The Office of the Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, moved for permanent custody of the neglected horses last month. Owner Michelle R. Wilson has since agreed to relinquish custody.

“We are fortunate that this story has a happy ending, but these horses should never have suffered in this way. State assistance is available through the Department of Agriculture, and animal owners in need should seek help immediately—long before legal action becomes necessary. I want to thank the expert caretakers at the Second Chance Large Animal Rehabilitation Program for truly giving these beautiful horses a second chance at a loving and happy life,” said Attorney General Tong.

“Finding suitable homes for each of these horses is our highest priority,” said Agriculture Commissioner Hurlburt. “They have already endured the unthinkable and deserve to be loved unconditionally.”

The state first secured temporary custody of nine horses from Laurel Ledge Farm in September 2020. Eight of the nine horses recovered in state care at the Second Change Large Animal Rehabilitation Program. One of the horses continued to deteriorate following the seizure and had to be euthanized.

Horses Tristan, Regal, Avadon, Ember, Cabot, Sullivan, Sebastian, and Bailey are now available for public adoption, along with two other horses previously seized and in state custody in an unrelated case. To be considered, interested parties should fill out an application form, specifying which horse they are interested in. Potential adopters will be thoroughly vetted through a background check and site visit to verify adequate facilities. All adopters will be required to sign an agreement. For more information, click here.

The state action was triggered by a complaint from Montville Animal Control reporting extremely underweight horses. State animal authorities unsuccessfully urged Wilson to consult with an equine veterinarian and to provide medical care. Equine veterinarians found all suffered from neglected dental care, and three were in obvious and significant dental pain. All nine horses lacked proper hoof care, including a severe bacterial infection in one. Three of the nine horses needed extreme and immediate hoof care. Eight of the nine horses had some degree of lameness, and two were severely lame and in obvious pain. Several were malnourished-- some severely so.

The Department of Agriculture recognizes the hardship experienced by many animal owners due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, including job loss resulting in financial instability. Additionally, severe drought throughout much of the state in 2020 limited available grazing during the summer months and negatively impacted the production of feed, including hay. The agency has compiled a directory of hay resources, as well as COVID-19 resources, which are available at Livestock and domestic animal owners are encouraged to reach out if additional assistance is needed. ‘

Ms. Wilson has also been charged with nine counts of Cruelty to Animals. That separate criminal matter is pending in Norwich Superior Court.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Harding and Assistant Attorney General Matt Levine, Head of the Environment Department, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.