Rescued ponies being prepared for adoption by the MSPCA
METHUEN — The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hopes to have six Berkley ponies that may have been neglected ready for adoption on May 13.
MSPCA Angell adoption services director Michael Keiley said the Animal Rescue League took the ponies to the agency’s farm in Methuen after ‘a bad situation’ which involved not being fed properly .
“Our role is to take them…and launch them on a new journey in their lives,” he said.
The ponies have been in the custody of the MSPCA since Berkley horse breeder Gary Bolger was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty by the Animal Rescue League.
He will be arraigned in Taunton District Court to answer the charges on May 18.
Animal Rescue League Lt. Alan Borgal reported nine ponies were rescued from Bolger’s farm and investigators found three dead ponies and one dead horse at the site.
The agency is caring for three ponies at a shelter in Dedham.
Animal Rescue League spokesman Mike Defina said the ponies were improving at different rates.
“We need to make sure they are in ideal weight and condition before placing them in new homes,” he said.
Ponies recovering from lack of food
Keiley said the ponies cared for at the MSPCA Angell Farm “were quite skinny” when they arrived.
“We mostly focused on their low body weight,” he said. “The refeeding process is tricky because horses have a sensitive digestive system. This is true for most species. As we go through the refeeding process, we must avoid going too fast as this will create a slowdown and put them in jeopardy. We got to a point where we established a supply base and went from there.
Keiley said the ponies are gaining weight and “it’s amazing how many pounds they’ve put on”.
“It amazes me how our team and the veterinary staff we bring in have attacked this issue and got them back on track,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking to see how close they were to not being able to keep up. It inspires me to see how they get rich by getting the resources they need and the attention they deserve.
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Keiley said a few ponies gained weight “a little too quickly”.
“We reduced the feed a bit for them,” he said. “The weight gain for the ponies is almost over at this point.”
Ponies adapt to people
Keiley said the ponies went for a long time without human interaction until they were rescued.
“They arrived quite scared and stressed,” he said. “We couldn’t do much with them or put halters on them.”
Keiley said five of the six ponies are getting used to being around people.
“We have one that doesn’t want us to touch her,” he said.
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Keiley said staff take a “gentle approach” to the pony who is uncomfortable around people.
“It takes time and consistency,” he said. “The right approach is gentle, and that encourages him to accept some human interaction.”
Keiley said the ponies range in age from 4 to 15 years old.
Ponies being prepared for adoption
Keiley said MSPCA Angell hopes the ponies will be healthy enough to be adopted after a May 13 veterinary check-up.
“We plan to give them some required health tests and get vaccinated,” he said. “If there are no red flags, we are ready to send them into their next life.”
Keiley said MSPCA Angell is looking for potential adoptive hopefuls who have experience caring for ponies and adequate equine resources.
“If anyone is interested, they should contact us and express their interest,” he said.
Keiley said MSPCA Angell staff could discern a troubling situation in a potential adoptive hopeful.
“Our system wants to make sure they (the animals) don’t end up in another bad situation,” he said. “We have an experienced team that can converse with people and identify any troubling situations.”
Keiley said most people looking to adopt an animal from the MSPCA “want to connect with our mission” and not hurt the creatures.
“If there are any questions, we deal with them individually,” he said.
Those interested in adopting a pony can contact the MSPCA online at Nevins Farm Adoption Inquiry or by calling 978-687-7453.
Ponies are an Irish breed
Keiley said the ponies are Connemara, a common breed in Ireland.
“Connemara is named after a county in Ireland,” he said. “There aren’t many in the United States. They have a large following and a lot of people are dealing with this breed of ponies.”
Keiley said the MSPCA farm has a strong Irish theme due to the presence of the ponies and eight Kerry cows which are common in Ireland.
“Irish cattle were handed over to us from Amherst,” he said. “It’s a rare breed.”
The MSPCA reported that the cattle were turned over to them by Shannon Rice-Nichols of Hadley on March 14 following an investigation.
MSPCA law enforcement has charged Rice-Nichols with 35 counts of animal cruelty and she will face trial in Eastern Hampshire District Court to answer the charges on May 12.
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