‘Bones sticking out, maggot-infested wounds’ — Activist shocked at NJ horse farm
WATERFORD — It's a mystery to Ellen Strack why the conditions at Labrador Farms Equine Sanctuary went downhill so fast, she says.
Sarah Rabinowitz, 62, owner of the 18-year-old facility, was charged on Friday with with multiple counts of animal cruelty and causing bodily harm to an animal after officers from the Waterford Police Department, agents from the NJSPCA and a veterinarian from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture entered the facility on a warrant.
Rabinowitz was released with a mandated court order to provide shelter and water for the 70 horses, donkeys and mules at the facility, and a pending a future court date.
Strack, founder of the South Jersey Horse Rescue, visited the farm on July 1 and freely took pictures of the animals after conditions at the facility were brought to her attention.
"I witnessed approximately 68 horses, donkeys and mules in terrible condition, with bones sticking out, huge maggot-infested wounds, horses dragging their legs, bloody legs from fly bites. Scars from fly bites," Strack said.
Those specific allegations have not been addressed in any public statement by law enforcement, however. A statement from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office only addressed allegations of inadequate water and food.
Strack said she isn't sure how conditions got so bad at the farm and could only offer conjecture.
Strack said a humane officer stops in once a day to check and make sure the animals are getting water and hay.
She has a team of vets and volunteers ready to go in an care for the animals, but getting permission from one of the law enforcement agencies involved has been difficult.
"The horses are dying and some of them need to be euthanized. I've said to these people involved if the horses die I am holding them responsible. They're just never going to sleep another night in their life because I won't let this happen," Strack said, adding that she was threatened by police with arrest if she brought the vets in without permission.
Strack has urged anyone with a horse at Labrador to remove it from the facility as soon as possible.
Rabinowitz has removed both her personal Facebook page; that of the facility is down as well. The facility's website does not have any mention of the charges brought against her.
Lizzie Mognoni, who is listed as Labrador's secretary on the website, defended her mother in a Facebook post on Saturday.
"My mother has done nothing wrong, and for those who truly know my mother they know that what is happening to her isn’t accurate. She was targeted and attacked for a year, prior to this happening. People trespassed, lied, harassed, and created an incredibly harmful situation. Her attorney and our vet support and back her up (he’s been her equine vet for 18 years), knowing the photos and posts were deliberately posted to destroy a woman who has NEVER neglected or harmed an animal," Mongnoni wrote.
Mognoni wrote that she and her unborn child have received threats from people threatening to show up at her workplace.
"The internet is a disgusting place and we cannot believe everything we see and read, no matter WHAT looks enticing and real in the moment, and I leave everyone with that. Innocent people are harmed when threats and nasty comments are made on and off the internet. I thank everyone (family, friends, volunteers, attorney, our vet, etc.) who’ve been here for my mother and for myself through all of this," she wrote.
Friends and family also left messages of support in the comments section of her post.
"I don’t believe this bs! Just spoke to your mom July 3rd. These charges are 100% ridiculous ! Stay strong," Joseph Martin wrote.
"I knew your mom for a long time when I lived in the east...she would not hurt a fly and I have been amazed by her accomplishments saving animals from cruelty," Klazine Pollack wrote.
"I am shocked to hear you are going through this. Stay positive and take care of yourself. Your sanctuary is WONDERFUL!!!!," Susan Rosenberg wrote.