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Horses Seized from Ingrahams

Published: 6/3/2010
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By Maddy Butcher Gray

The Maine horse community can breathe just a tiny bit easier tonight knowing that horses have been removed from the harmful hands of Brett and Alexis Ingraham at Fair Play Farm in Clinton, Maine.
A search warrant was issued and state troopers and Animal Welfare officials were at the farm all day today, June 3.
Some witnesses saw as many as 15 horses removed from the property. Records and other animals, including a dog, were seized.
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[Click here for Channel 13 coverage]
Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle told NickerNews he will sit down with investigators, review evidence, and determine the scope and severity of the alleged crimes. He expects charges to be brought within the week.
“Animals may be the most compelling part of it,” said Fowle. “But there’s other evidence as well.”
Assistant District Attorney Paul Rucha has handled the case thus far and, said Fowle, “I don’t think there is anyone else in the state more qualified to handle this case.”
Horrific treatment of Fair Play Farm animals first came to the surface after Meris Bickford delivered a complaint to the Animal Welfare Program in February. [Click here for Bickford complaint]

At the time, AWP stated it was monitoring the FPF animals. State Department of Agriculture officials have offered a wide spectrum on statements to justify inaction – from “There’s nothing wrong there.” to “We’re working on herd management with the Ingrahams.”

Meanwhile, the greater Maine horse community has clamored for more action to help horses at Fair Play Farm and to address the long and miserable history of AWP complacency. Many horse advocates contacted their representatives and media interests in an effort to bring more attention to this two-pronged issue: open horse neglect and state inaction.

Sources for NickerNews reported trailers transporting horses from the Tardiff Road farm during the day. And at approximately 6pm, three loaded trailers containing as many as seven horses pulled away from the farm and headed south on Interstate 95. It was not clear where the state was placing the neglected animals.

Click here for Morning Sentinel article.

Despite the offers of rescue agencies and dozens of Good Samaritans, none contacted by NickerNews said they were enlisted to help with the seizure.
But bottom line, at least, is that animals have been removed from harm's way.

Said Fowle: “The animals need to be protected. The evidence needs to be preserved.”

AMEN to that!

View Reader Comments:

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6/3/2010 Lynn Young
about time!
6/3/2010 Margy
AMEN is right now we see how it all plays out. Thanks!
6/3/2010 gaeliclass
Fantastic !!! Thank you to the Judge, the DA and Assistant DA handling this case. And especially to all the folks in the Maine horse community who refused to sit idly by while these animals suffered needlessly. Hopefully this will come to complete fruition and justice will be served.
6/3/2010 Michelle #3
This is the best news I've heard in MONTHS! I can't wait to hear these charges, and I'm looking forward to watching their first court case on June 22 for the charges in Andro County. Let the next battle begin...because we are all ready & waiting! HAPPY DAY!!! And a huge pat on the back to NickerNews and all others who've submitted reports & provided evidence.
6/3/2010 Missy
I am speechless and overjoyed. Thank you for this amazing piece of hope.
6/3/2010 Meris
Thank you to everyone who has helped to bring a small measure of accountability to the system and a large portion of free choice hay to those emaciated horses. It is a beginning.
6/3/2010 Linda
AWESOME!!! It's about time that something is being done. A few at a time, it's a start. Thank you Nicker News for keeping us informed. I look forward to news as it become available.
6/3/2010 Jessica
FANTSTIC!! Such great news. Fingers are now crossed that justice is truly served.
6/4/2010 Estelle
Took way too long, but thank God they finally got them to see what happens...sorry to say I'm pretty jaded after dealing with crap like this in Maine for many years, but Paul Rusha is the best DA to be working on this, I have worked with him before and he really does try once it's decided to go to court...I'm sure the timing has something to do with elections and I'm just as sure there will be more battles to be fought for more horses, but I'm very thankful that at least these horses have made it out to a better life. Thanks Maddy and all who have fought so hard for this.
6/4/2010 Barbara
Best wishes to all these poor animals who are starting a new life today! Many thanks for all those who cared enough to keep the pressure on and the accountability issues out in the open. I think the train has left the station....
6/4/2010 Val
It makes me teary to think of what those horses have endured at the hands of these people, and not just now, but for the past 8 years at least. Thank you to each person who helped in this effort and thanks to NickerNews for an excellent article.
6/4/2010 Kathleen Hagerty
God be with these beautiful animals as they recover!
6/4/2010 Jan
A huge thanks to DA Fowle and ADA Rusha!!! Maine's horse 'champions' Janet Tuttle, Meris Bickford and Marilyn Goodreau deserve standing ovations!!! The Maine horse community who pulled together to write, email and call their elected officials .. WTG!! The justice for the horses has been a long time coming. AMEN!!!!!!
6/4/2010 Becky
This makes me so happy and so sad all at the same time. I'm THRILLED something has finally been done and we have the attention of those that can make it better for these animals. I'm also very sad that dozens if not hundreds of horses have suffered in the hands of these people for many, many years. None of us can change the passed but we can be hopeful that the future of these horses will include a much better, safer, happier life for them. It was public awareness and public out cry that got the ball rolling. Thanks to everyone that took time to write, educate someone or file a complaint, you all made a difference. I DO NOT know where these horses went, but there is one amazing facitily that is totally capable of rehabbing these horses, the MSSPA and I'd be willing to bet they went there. ANYONE that can spare $5, $10, $25 or $100 PLEASE consider making a donation to them, PLEASE! Even if these horses are not there, the MSSPA goes above and beyond EVERY single day, day in and day out to provide for horses in the same, if not worse situation of what these horses have endured. I'm looking forward to updates, and again THANKS anyone and everyone that took the time to help in this matter! Have a great day all and remember to hug your ponies!!!!
Im am in shock.. the system ( with enough people pushing at it to equal a state snow plow) finely working ! WOOOHOOOO!! thanks you every one involved sent the emails an made the calls and whispered the prayers !! Lets hope they keep up the great work and no horse gets left behind.!!
6/4/2010 Debbie
Thank God.
6/4/2010 Becky
Not to be a downer by any means but it was possibly as many as 15 right? Do they not have 50 or 60 up there?
6/4/2010 Joy
Many thanks to many people in Maine for fighting for these animals. A huge step has been made toward better animal welfare control with this effort but it's only the first step of many. It's been an uphill battle for sure but that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel is enough to keep me believing that animals will not be allowed to suffer in Maine any longer as long as we work together to keep them safe.
6/4/2010 Jeannie
Why did this take so long? And only 7 horses? Where are the rest of them? This is not acceptable. However, thank you to all who worked so hard on this. You saved seven and that is a comfort. Now, onto the next case. . .
6/4/2010 Bonita
...and how many more are left behind? I am amazed that it took this long for action from the State of Maine, and hope that a careful note and record keeping will prove the allegations to be true. Of course one only needed to ride by and look at the spines and haunches on these sick and starving animals. Animal collection is a psychiatric disease - hopefully a treatment plan will be put in place so this does not happen again. Bravo to the horse community for keeping the pressure on and eye open to this case.
6/4/2010 KCP
Well done!
6/4/2010 Molly Stark
Yes - good news first thought was, "Where are they going?" My heart would rest easier if I knew...any other way to find out?
6/4/2010 susan miller
yes well done and thanks to the maine horse community for stepping up and protecting the horses
6/4/2010 Denise
I live very close to the farm and watched most of the day. At around 7pm I went by for the last time, I saw 7 or 8 horses still in the pasture. Why? They (the state) should have taken them all, even if they belonged to the Ingrahams. I also hope the news stations do some follow up on the story and the newspaper as well. And what about the case already pending on Alexis on the sale of diseased horse?
6/4/2010 Becky M.
The location of the horses can not and will not be released as they are evidence in a pending case. We must trust that they will finally get the care they need. The fact that it took so long is dishearting, BUT it may be what is needed to seal the deal on this case. Alexis was given time to comply with AWP in providing basic needs, it is my belief that her failure to do so lead to the removal of horses. VERY sad, I know, that they had to continue to suffer while we allowed due process, but it was up to Alexis to comply and she failed, or at least that is how I see it, that being said this makes the case one that can be sucessfully prosecuted. Alexis has had NUMEROUS chances to do right by these animals, her failure to do so will be told and very soon!! The current report is 15 horses were removed and 2 dogs, from the Clinton farm. I personally rode by the Burnham farm, her parents property, on 5/24/10 and there were approx 20 additional horses there. I could not tell their condition from driving by, but there are still more horses involved in this case.
6/4/2010 Suzanne Roth
The owners of this farm and others like them should do time - I got sick when I saw the news just now. Though I would love to own a horse, I can't afford it - but I still love them and hate to see them abused. If there is a petition, I will sign it!
6/4/2010 Missy
Saw Maddy on the news tonight. Perfect spokesperson. Controlled, eloquent, factual.
6/4/2010 Rachel
Long over due but not they can finally have the care and attention they deserve, reading this puts a big knot in my throat and alot of anger on how someone can treat animals that way.
6/5/2010 Jessica
Where the horses are should be of no concern to any of us - at this point, we all have to wait for the State to complete their investigation. We are so close to a conviction in this saga, it would be terrible if someone crossed a line by trying to locate the animals and somehow caused the case to be comprised. To me, it doesn't matter where they are, as long as they are no longer at FPF.
6/5/2010 Joie
They own a stallion that I tried to purchase when he came off the track named "Baby Rusch". They got to him sad. I wonder where he is now. :(
6/5/2010 Jan
This is a perfect example of the squeaky wheel. I firmly believe that if 'we' (concerned citizens - to borrow a phrase) didn't raise holy hell .. emails, phone calls, submit evidence and statements .. print graphic t-shirts. This seizure would never have happened. We didn't back down this time .. we gathered a very diverse, determined and forceful group of people who didn't give up. We may not all agree all the time, but it certainly does prove that 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going.' DA Fowle and ADA Rusha deserve a huge thanks for their pursuit of justice for the horses!! Hoping this will be just the beginning of a total overhaul of AWP!
6/6/2010 RL
Why is AWP spending taxpayer dollars to board the seized horses rather than placing them with the experts at MSSPA? MSSPA cares for State seized horses at NO COST to the State of Maine!!
6/6/2010 Jan
MSSPA is full - therefore probably not able to take in 15 horses ... And, Meris Bickford is the VP for MSSPA as well as the primary complainant for the complaint at FPF - conflict of interest. Wouldn't look good to have them take the horses in. And, in reality, not much 'taxpayer' money funds AWP. Most of their money comes from dog licensing, Coggins tests for horses and proceeds from the sale of the Animal Welfare license plate.
6/7/2010 missy
Is there any truth to this that they shoot their horses?!!!! These people are bringing a baby into the world as well..scary thought
6/7/2010 Minnie Sygnecki
This is very good news! I am very glad that they also took the dogs. But what about the cats? I visited Fairplay while looking for a horse back in February and the dogs seemed very hungry. I carry dog treats in my trunk and gave them some and I was alarmed by their almost hysterical behavior. The cats were frenzily trying to get to the dog bisquets. I understand that people keep cats at barns to help control the mice population, but they also need to be fed a steady, nutritional diet of pet food.
6/7/2010 Linda
I am so sick and absofrickinlootly tired of official indifference to animal suffering. Kuddos to y'all up there in Maine. Keep up the good work, and bless you for helping get those horses out of Fair Play. I know what it's like to try to get the authorities to act... No better down here than up there. You go, ladies, and continue to help make a difference.
6/7/2010 Greg
Look out all you happy horse owners. They'll be comming after your horse next. This horse comunity is brutal. when one of you is down you really like to kick em.
6/7/2010 Missy
My post about "they shoot horses, don't they" was actually submitted awhile back, before I knew the answer to the question. Interesting that it would show up now, tho. Might explain how you can go from 100 horses, to 20 or 50, so quickly.
6/7/2010 Joy
I honestly don't think that people that feed their horses have anything to worry about..
6/8/2010 Janice Bishop
My daughter and I made a complaint to the state and to the Westbrook Humane Society in November of last year. We too had gone to Fair Play to look at a horse advertised for sale. We apparently were suppose to go to P & Q Stables, but went to Fair Play by mistake because that is the place the horse was advertised under. What we found there was unbelieveable. There was one horse that no longer looked like a horse and desperately needed to be put down. The horses was obviously in distress and had no water. There was a "Keep Out," sign on the barn, but I was more concerned about getting water to the animals so I entered. I can't even properly describe what I found on entering the barn. I think there were 6 horses, one a foal, nothing but skin and bones. And again no water. We called the owner to ask how to get water to the horses and she quickly responded that her mother was on the way there and she would be getting the horses water. She told us that we were at the wrong place and needed to meet her at this P & Q stable that she was renting. Arriving there we did a quick scan at the numerous horses that were there and even through some had ribs showing they didn't look that bad. Upon meeting us her first question to us when we asked her about the other place was, "You didn't go into the barn did you?" I immediately lied and said no, but asked her how come these horses were in such poor condition. She gave me the rescue story and seemed prefectly convinced she was doing nothing wrong. When we contacted that state we explained in detail what we saw, how the barn had the "Keep Out" Sign and what the owner had said about being a rescue. As my daughter and I both said, if you are a rescue your horses should be in different stages of recovery and not all looking skinny and shabby. And why have the "keep out" sign with horses obviously hidden away if they had nothing to hide as they now claim.
6/8/2010 Margy
This action was long overdue to say the least, but it also begs the question of how after 4 months of monitoring and compliance a horse in the condition of the one shown being loaded into the trailer was still in that shape? Is this another example of AWP's standard answer there is nothing wrong here? Because there is something seriously wrong with an animal in that conditon.
6/8/2010 colleen
Do we know where the horses went? I have been hearing rumors that some of them are not placed in much better places - we have many licensed places how come they do not get used?
6/19/2010 Susan
There seem to be more and more people hoarding animals who cannot take proper care of them; you only need to go to rescue sites, etc, to find numerous situations where people have five or more horses without either the resources or education to manage the situation. It is in all of our interest to first attempt to educate people, then remove animals, in situations of abuse or neglect. Would you like these people to be YOUR next-door neighbors?
6/21/2010 Nancy
PLEASE do not sound the victory trumpets yet!! This is not over. The Ingrahams have simply moved their operation back to the farm owned by Alexis's parents in Burnham!!! The animals are on poor, played out pasture unable to sustain the numbers. They have no shelter from the BUGS or HEAT and no water!! These animals are still suffering, just in a less visable area. PLEASE PLEASE do not stop fighting!! Keep the pressure on!!
6/21/2010 Janet Sanborn
Does anyone know what happened to the rest of the horses they had? I went by the Fairplay Farm on Sat. 6-19 and did not see any horses. Did they find new homes for the horses that were left or did they go to Canada?
6/22/2010 michelle r
i drove by a week later and saw 6-7 drafts horses and three saddle horses wayyyy out back. i do have pictures, and i took them from the road. they appeared to be in good health
6/27/2010 Everet
Setting things straight for 6/2010- I too have been following this situation. (PLEASE!! PLEASE!! Nancy your comment -- 1. Alexis and Brett's dog and pony show has apparently moved out of Clinton and back to the Burnham farm to live with the equally animal abusive parents Betty and Roger Pelletier.) My opinion is THAT'S OUT AND OUT SLANDER. 2. Your comment: The horses and misc. other creatures are now on poor, played out pasture in the HEAT and BUGS WITHOUT WATER or SHELTER.-- I've been farming for 30 some years and I'm not sure I can judge a played out pasture unless I took a soil test. I believe the Pelletier's have substantial acres, there seems to be lots of trees for shade. I also counted 10 water tubs that I could see. 3. Your comment: Many of the thin mares appear pregnant. NO Positively NO -- I saw two thin horses. Both are sway backed - aged. What you judge as pregnant mares are horses that are rounding out due to the green grass. And last time I knew horses who have a certain part of the anatomy are not called mares. Any horseman can see that.
6/27/2010 Joy
"trees for shade" is not adequate shelter per the State Humane law. They specifically state that 3 sided shelters are required with dry floors and space enough for EACH animal to lay down in. If there is NO shelter other than trees then it's time to start hollering again guys and make the powers that be in Augusta do their jobs.
7/14/2010 RoseHorseLover
Thanks goodness something at least happened...too bad it wasn't more, but at least some are safe now. Although word has it that Norma Worley is being quite the... about people speaking out about her lack of action in these cases. I guess most of us should thank our lucky stars that we don't work in state government. It seems she is persecuting people who work for the state (even some of her own employees) and dare to speak out about her disgusting lack of concern, job ethics or just plain not doing her job. This happens to state employees who are speaking out on their own time on their own phones or computers not on state time or equipment. Unfortunatly for them (the state employees) Bradstreet the commissioner totally backs her up and either she or he contacts commissioners of other departments to try and get employees fired, disciplined whatever they can get done... I thought this was America and everyone had a right to express their feelings safely, I guess not if you're a state employee. SHAME ON ALL OFF THEM that are participating in this charade and trying to punish people who truly care about the sad state of affairs regarding horse protection in this state. I'm sure if there were any way for her to get at other people who are involved with trying to help these horses and speaking out publicly she'd be all over it, but luckily for most of us there is not a thing she can do to us.
7/16/2010 Everet
You call it what you want. Those State employees should have read their State employee handbooks more carefully. You might be right that those people care about animal rights but you can't really believe that its right to breach confidentiality or slander your employer publicly? Breaching confidentiality is a serious offense with the new laws. Those employees knew it and can't really think there would not be consequences. As people are so quickly to point out -- right is right, wrong is wrong.
7/20/2010 Joy
I think that it's all part of this boil coming to a head. Norma's employees obviously do not stand behind her and we ALL get that! Bradstreet wouldn't side with them because he would then look as incompetent as Norma so of course he's siding with her and hence the new change in the program with Norma now answering to someone else. Another bandaid on the system IMO....the animals will continue to suffer until someone cleans house.
7/23/2010 Everet
More changes? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the hierarchy changed. And who is Norma accountable to now if not the Commissioner?
7/23/2010 RoseHorseLover
Evertt heard the term whistle blower?
7/23/2010 RoseHorseLover
Everet also wanted to mention, not all of the people that work for the state that she is going after work in her department or are her employees and therefore are not under the same "rules" about disclosure, maybe you need to read the state handbook. and personally as for the staff who work at Animal Welfare and have become whistle blowers (which is a legal and protected right) I give huge kudos to her workers who dared to stand up and say something was wrong..what are you saying, keep letting the horses die and keep your mouth shut when you are one of the people who work there and see this happen time and time again??!!?
7/23/2010 Joy
I'm not quite sure how all of this hierarchy stuff is working at the moment where the AWP is concerned but I've been told that AW has moved from Animal Health and Industry to the Division of Plant Industry and will overseen by Robert Batteese??? Makes no sense to me but I'm sure there is a reason for it. I have someone staying with me the first week in August who is very close to the Commissioner so I will be sure and bend his ear a bit and find out why the change. Did Norma have someone above her to answer to other than the Commissioner before July 1?
7/23/2010 Everet
Nope. I'm just saying there is a right way and a wrong way. State workers were mentioned so I responded -- don't know of others being scrutinized other than the state workers. And...of course every work place has different guidelines. I guess, the point I'm getting at is -- you can be a whistle blower but do it going through the appropriate channels and keep going up. Don't whistle blow slamming your employer on a public forum because no employer in their right mind will let that pass. That's it. You wouldn't! People need to see through the trees here and stop bringing in the emotions. Do the job, stick to your beliefs, go by the guidelines, use the laws to your advantage and keep the personal stuff out of it because if you don't, everyone will take it personally even your employer. Then it won't be about the animal anymore it will be about the human.

"No one can teach riding so well as a horse" - CS Lewis