SODUS — The place was like a junkyard, Wayne County Animal Cruelty Investigator Tom Littlefield said after authorities removed 95 animals from a property on Wilson Road in Wolcott on Oct. 25.
Three horses, 42 bunnies (some pregnant), 35 chickens, 12 ducks, two geese and one pig were taken from the property and transported to Cracker Box Palace, a farm animal rescue facility at Alasa Farms in Sodus. For some of those animals, help came too late, Littlefield said. Since the rescue, some of the rabbits have perished despite efforts to save their lives.
“They were like skeletons with hair on them,” the investigator said of the rabbits. “There was a kids’ pool full of black water that looked like sewage.”
Autopsies performed on the deceased rabbits showed they had no body fat. Littlefield said they are still waiting on further reports from veterinarians at this time.
A concerned citizen contacted Littlefield when she noticed after more than a week that the horses in the pasture had no hay to eat and had resorted to eating tree branches for nourishment. When Littlefield arrived at the home, he said there was no water for any of the animals except what had collected over time in the debris sitting around the yard — and that could only be reached by the chickens, ducks and geese. The lone pig on the property was standing in deep mud in an open pen with no shelter to protect it from the weather. He ordered the property owners to feed and water the animals and returned to the property with reinforcements to remove the animals.
Littlefield said owner Marie Koons failed to provide valid reasons for the obvious neglect, but she did agree to sign over the animals to authorities without a fight. Among the explanations offered, Koons allegedly told Littlefield the care of the animals was the responsibility of her 10-year-old son, but Littlefield said the care for any animal ultimately falls to the adults in the home. Although authorities removed all the farm animals from the property, Littlefield said they did allow Koons to keep two dogs, both of which were in good condition.
A phone listing for Koons could not be found in attempt to reach her for comment.
The investigation is continuing Littlefield said, and charges may be pending.
This was the fifth animal cruelty case this summer Cracker Box personnel have assisted authorities with, adding an additional 162 animals to the farm. Cracker Box Founder Cheri Roloson said the non-profit farm is now bursting at the seams with farm animals in desperate need of homes.
“We’re at an all-time high for us,” Roloson said, adding that they have been able to foster several animals, and adoptions are on the rise as well. “People have been wonderful.”
But Roloson is looking for more people who can foster or adopt a farm animal.
Although accustomed to helping a variety of farm animals on a daily basis, Roloson said this particular case has put a strain on the farm. During rescue efforts, Roloson said she was borrowing rabbit cages from everyone she knew.
The adoption and fostering processes are similar, and the farm’s policy allows for the animals to be returned within three months if things don’t seem to be working out, Roloson said. Details can be found on the website at Fostering is tax deductible.
Animals arriving at Cracker Box from a cruelty case receive veterinary care, along with proper housing and food. It’s an expensive venture, but Roloson is committed to the cause and has been since she started the farm in 2000 after several cows were found starved to death, ironically on Wilson Road in Wolcott. Armed with 70 volunteers, Roloson said the farm stays afloat largely through the generosity of others.
“Everything on the farm is volunteer,” Roloson said. “Our volunteers have been lifesavers.”
But it’s more than just volunteering that keeps the farm going. Roloson said there is rarely a day that goes by that someone doesn’t stop by to help scrub down a stall, offer a monetary donation or drop off a truckload of hay. But then, that’s just Wayne County, Roloson said.
“This place probably wouldn’t survive anyplace but in Wayne County,” she said. “People around here give everything.”
Send monetary donations payable to Cracker Box Palace to P.O. Box 174, Alton, NY 14413.
Cracker Box Wish List for 2014:
• A budget that will allow us to hire staff
. Our volunteers are amazing and we appreciate all the help we can get, but to have people on staff that can guide our volunteers and community groups in tasks, imagine what we could accomplish.
Creating job opportunities has always been a goal from the very concept of buying Alasa Farms. People to manage the barns, work on forestry projects, continue the historic legacy of the farm, run and add to the agricultural areas of the farm to provide more sustainability to operating costs included with such a place as Cracker Box Palace while including the educational programs this farm can offer are a priority for us to succeed. We would like to hire a veterinarian of our own. With a vet on staff, we would be able to care for all of our animals and offer clinics for the community here at the farm including shot clinics, gelding/spay and neuter clinics and add even more educational opportunities to encourage good animal husbandry or future large animal vets.
• Trainers
– currently with all the horses here at the farm, we are reaching out to experiences horse trainers to work with at least 20 horses to give them a talent and make them more adoptable. We are currently working on a "Trainers Challenge" competition to encourage help from our trainers for the spring.
• A web page coordinator that can keep up with our constant news from the farm for our web site.
• An office person that can manage our office and the never ending phone calls for people needing help with the animals, along with handling the paperwork, accounting, animal health records, helping our event planners, scheduling volunteers, community organizations and interns. This person would be the organizing force for the daily operations of the farm.
• Volunteers for all areas of the farm
. The shelter alone uses almost 70 volunteers to keep our animals healthy and happy, run events and fundraisers to afford their costs, work in the hay fields, take care of the barn and fence repairs and do everything from muck a stall to write grants. But we also have the other areas now including our forestry projects including the trails, sugar bush and conservation, historic restoration including reviving the museum, agricultural products, Gift Shop and market, and our new S.T.E.A.D.Y. Work, Young Adult program will need donors, sponsorship, mentors and support.
• Sponsors -
Sponsors for our upcoming events would enable us to increase our advertising and make our events much more successful. See our upcoming event page in this newsletter if you’re interested in Name Recognition Sponsorships or sponsoring a part of the event. Prizes, awards, gift baskets, raffle or door prize items are needed for all the events. Sponsoring a new truck for the farm or the LART trailer will help us keep providing assistance when emergency calls come in, help us with bringing in hay, large donations and delivering feed to the farm.
• Building Projects and Equipment
A large animal chute Stocks for our older horses Medical equipment for our new lab Heavy duty truck
Fence materials – lumber, horse and goat fence, cattle panels Lean to and out buildings or the materials to build them
A bucket truck or lift to paint the big barns Roof repair for the Cow Barn Round pens Indoor arena
Electric upgrades and repairs to houses and barns Trail Bridges Pavilion at the Campgrounds
Muck rakes, shovels, wheel barrels, muck buckets Tools – hammers, battery power tools, chain saws, pruners, loppers
• Ongoing Items Always in Need
Hay (round and square bales always welcome!) Straw Corn Cob bedding Peat Moss
Shavings - our bulk shavings are ordered through E.A.Eaton Trucking 315-946-2579
Feed – A list of all our feeds are available at Pine Creek Feed Store in Lyons, call 315-946-6061 and
Sodus Feeds and Needs in Sodus, call 315-553-2264
Salt and Trace Mineral blocks 747 Supplement B-L Solution Critical Care for the rabbits
Wormers – Ivermectrin, Pranziquantel, Safequard and Panacur, Qwest or Zimectrin Gold
Medicines – Banamine, SMZ, B12 complex, Bute, Deximethizone, Antihist powder, Pergolide or Prasend tablets, broad spectrim injectable antibiotics, Aloe Vera Vet Cream, drawing salve, furazone, dmso
Vet wrap, elasticon, gauze pads, speed wraps and cotton batting and leg wraps.