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Action and Inaction at Fair Play Farm

Published: 2/23/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

The past several days have been mixed with action and inaction on many fronts.

We hear from many observers in Clinton that horses are being moved from the Fair Play Farm on Tardiff Road.
That’s funny because you would assume that with Animal Welfare’s “active investigation,” no horses would be allowed to leave the property.
Nonetheless, we have observed significantly fewer horses there than just last week. We suspect they have moved all but the healthy horses from this farm.

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[Read and listen to MPBN report.]
[Read the story in the Bangor Daily News.]
[Read and watch WGME story.]
[Read and watch WABI video.]

We may or may not hear more tomorrow (Wednesday) at the emergency meeting called by AWAC, the Animal Welfare Advisory Council, at 9 am at the Deering Building.

This meeting is open to the public!

If you attend, please bring your best manners. If you have pertinent information concerning Fair Play or other animal welfare complaints, please be brief and concise.
If possible, have your information available in printed form for distribution to AWAC members.
Should things get unruly, AWAC does have the power to call an "Executive Session" which would then exclude the public. We wouldn't want that.

The Deering Building is part of the Eastside Office Complex at 90 Blossom Lane in Augusta.

Click here for directions

Many have suggested that our elected officials need to be more informed on what’s going on.
If you don’t know who represents you, click here.

Phone numbers for the governor, district attorney, Dept. of Agriculture and animal welfare is listed on several Equine Welfare Watchdog pages. Click here to see a list of those pages.

To download a summary file of this horse welfare crisis, click here.

By the way, I called Department of Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet’s office yesterday.
His receptionist hadn’t even heard of the Clinton farm crisis and she transferred me to Animal Welfare.
Animal Welfare left their calls to voice mail (at least for me).

View Reader Comments:

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2/23/2010 Kathy
I would love to go to this but must work in order to feed my horses. I hope many people turn out for the meeting and some light shines on the horrible situation in Clinton and other horse factories.
2/23/2010 Chris
She hadn't heard of it? Did she just start work there? Very upsetting that the office isn't even aware? I don't think there's a case now that the horses heve been moved, is there?
2/23/2010 Janet Sanborn
I have been following this story because I love horses. I hate for any animal to be neglected and so I have a big heart and some hay if I can help. I only live 10 or 12 miles from the Fair Play Farm. I am going to send a letter to my representative, Dean Cray of Palmyra.
I sure hope someone gets the ball rolling on this soon...otherwise, it sounds as if yet another animal abuser is going to fall through the cracks. This is becoming a complete travesty of justice, and just think, this is what our tax dollars are being used to support!
2/23/2010 D.Smith
I know Alexis,I lived not far from her in Burnham.This whole thing does not surprise me.She has always been far more interested in what she can GET FROM a horse than what she could DO FOR it.Money is her interest,no matter the cost to the animal.
2/23/2010 Sarah
Where is this other farm in Burnham? Does anyone know if animal welfare is checking that place out?
2/24/2010 Joy
Two questions: 1. Why are they allowed to purchase horses in poor condition and then resell them before they are healthy? The State law clearly states that this is not legal. 2. Has anyone tuned the IRS and Maine Revenue Services in to the fact that they have sold 50 horses this winter? There should be a paper trail 10 miles long for that many horses...and if there is a paper trail they should be able to prove their claim of innocence....highly doubt that is going to happen though.
2/24/2010 Jenn
Why don't you believe there story that the horses arrived like that? The picture here wouldn't even hold up in court here in UT because there is hay obviously being eaten. Is it possible they are trying to help? Please don't attack me, I'm just curious. I have a super thin horse here at my house. He has been eaten none stop for 2 months, since he arrived. I am trying to put weight on but the vet says it will take alomost a year. Is it possible you guys are wrong?
2/24/2010 June Bug
A friend of mind stoped there Monday And a women at the barn said Quote: we have NO horses for sale and have No horses ready yet for sale. She never ask if she would like to look at any of the horses. My friend Was looking to buy. So what is the truth here. One story for the news another story for horse lovers looking to buy. So what is the answer here!!! Please let me know.I guess I don't get it. Isn't this for the horses to find them good homes.
2/24/2010 Lee Dyer
I personally visited the farm today. There is not one thing wrong with whats going on there. All you people who think you know everything, need to go for a visit. You will find many fat and happy horses. The few that arent fat, are definitely happy because they are finally getting the care and food they should have been getting from thier previous owner. As for those previous owners, you know-it-alls should be tracking them down and making thier lives miserable. You all need to get lives and leave the Ingrahams alone.
2/25/2010 DORI
I will tell you the animal welfare system in this state is horrible..I take a couple rescues in a few times a year ..the last one i had to threaten the state for them to do anything ..these people had 10 horses and they got rid of all of them so noone got chsrged for this ..the state had ivestigated for over a year and two horses died on the property ...IT WAS SAD... but i did save a 2 year old fillie from that horrible place in poland.... good luck if i can help feel free to e-mail me ..i can tell you after i got that filly the state treatd me like the criminal till i talked to the state vet and my vet did too ..the state is messed up ,prioritys are all wrong
2/25/2010 D
This may sound a bit off but, if donations are made to these people to help with these horses, wont that just enable them to continue with this problem? It may help temporarily but not solve the issue. They need to stop taking in sick and malnourished horses. They are not a rescue for a reason. They are not able to provide appropriately for these horses. So as much as they may have good intentions, they should leave the rescuing to the rescue farms. I think there bottom line is how much of a profit they can make off these horses. This is what needs to stop. If they want to buy healthy horses that may need training or other non health related issue work and resell them that is a good way for them to make money. But the rehab of sick horses is beyond there financial ability with so many other horses. Why do they need to have so many anyway? They need to concentrate on selling what they have before getting more. I am wondering if the owners of this property are fully aware of this issue. Why are they being allowed to have so many horses if they are leasing the farm? What do the owners think of all this? Why are they not involved in the action here? How much land is there and is it even enough to support the amount of horses there? I don't know why there is an issue of a lack of funding to enforce action here. I think there are plenty of people that are willing to take these horses and plenty of people who are willing to volunteer to look into other farms to ensure they will go to a place where they can get proper care. Why cant the law be enforced like any other? A cop goes there with an order for them to GIVE for FREE some of there horses to other homes or they go to jail! If making a profit is that big of a deal for these people it would save them on cost of hay, feed and care not to have them there. This isn't rocket science, where is the common scents?
2/25/2010 Margy
I cannot stress enough that donating feed and supplies for someone to continue to earn a living is sooo wrong. First and most important they are not a rescue...hence no donations. It has been said by too many sources the owners of FPF included they are in business, they are dealers. That said they should not be taking on more than they can afford to take care of and they most certainly should not even through a third party be taking donations in order to make money! If they are willing for a 3rd party to organize donations for them they need to take the really responsible step and surrender the animals they cannot properly take care of to those who can and will. And as for the supplies to rebuild the buildings?
2/26/2010 Joy
I couldn't agree more with you on that one. Your average backyard individual that needs a helping hand is one thing and I'd be all over that but I will not condone the actions of these irresponsible individuals who will learn NOTHING from all of this is things are given to them. This is where your Animal Welfare Program needs to be stepping in and doing their job and making THEM be responsible for their "business". Either care properly for your animals or turn them over to someone who can....don't expect others to fund their business and then let them reap the rewards through the sale of their horses.
2/26/2010 Estelle
Gee they said themselves several times that they keep 50 head and take in the sad cases because they can afford the proper care and food. I'd donate to someone like them about as quick as I'd shoot off my left foot. Yeah, tell em to keep breeding, that's a plan. And yes! They most certainly have moved many horses off the property, why are you defending and lying for them if you think everything is just hunky dory, makes you about as bad as they are.
2/26/2010 Jan
After attending both the 'emergency' AWAC meeting on Wednesday and the HSUS Humane Day yesterday the one MOST important thing is ... call, write, email .. your Legislators!!! Let them know what's going on and how you feel. After spending a day at the State House and speaking with various Legislators it was obvious that the word was out about this situation. These people need to hear from us .. they 'work' for us!!! Their email addresses are available on the site .. Maine Friends of Animals is polling the candidates running for Governor as to their stand/feelings on animal welfare. Results should be interesting. Don't hesitate to email the candidates as well ... Keep the pressure on!!!
2/26/2010 Elaine
Let's face it, education is key here. These people in Clinton are taking in horses that other people can't afford to keep anymore. People love to have those shiny horses in the summer. Feed is good as they have green grass but when winter comes the expense starts to incur - for hay and grain. The owners can't afford the horse but keep it as they are trying to recoup the money they spend purchasing it. When they can't sell it or are not able to feed it, the horse starts to go downhill. The owner is desperate and just gets rid of it. Sadly, the horse is then in very poor condition. A piece of this puzzle is to educate people on how much it actually does cost to keep a horse. It may not fix the problem but it might decrease the number of horses that are given up throughout the winter months in terrible condition.
2/26/2010 Michelle #3
Shortly after the Emergency Meeting with AWAC began, the meeting went into Executive Session, meaning all members of the public and media had to leave. Animal Welfare Program officials and Animal Welfare Advisory Committee remained to discuss further...although little more info was given regarding the investigation. At 10am, AWP staff had to leave that meeting for another, at which time the public and media were allowed to meet with AWAC. Many issues were discussed, and the end result is pretty much what was known from the beginning...there is an ongoing investigation, no charges have been filed, there is no order to stop the business of FPF while the investigation continues. What you can be certain of is this: there would NOT be an ongoing investigation (however you feel it's being conducted) if there were no concerns with this farm. The state is being VERY tight lipped because this is a REAL investigation, and will not be swept aside like so many others. It would be nice to have seen some horses seized to get the medical attention they need, but I can't guess as to why that hasn't happened. There are two things that can be done by those of us with concerns. (1) If you have FIRST HAND knowledge, experience, photographs that will support allegations of neglect, you MUST PLEASE file a report! File it with the AWP regardless of how frustrated you are with how they are handlling this. BUT, in order for it to really be taken seriously, you must also submit your report to Evert Fowle, District Attorney. His number is listed on the NickerNews website. DA Fowle has REQUESTED that all those with first hand reports please contact him with your observations of FPF. He is taking this VERY SERIOUSLY! (2) Everyone MUST keep the pressure on by calling your local senators and representatives. It's very easy to find the names & contact info for your elected officials. Letters & e-mails are great, but PHONE CALLS are even better! Be professional, but assertive when telling them that you take animal abuse and neglect SERIOUSLY, that they should too...and that they need to ACT regarding the Clinton case. Many people are angered because they feel they should not have to do the AWP's job for them. Consider this...if you have NOT given your report with your first hand information, they WILL NOT have the important evidence you hold. Just like in a criminal investigation, someone with evidence MUST COME FORWARD...don't assume they will find you. By presenting your account, you will make the job easier for AWP staff...or if you will make it more difficult for them to NOT do their jobs. YOU will help build their case, strengthen the legitimacy of the allegations, and support the need for charges to be filed. The bottom line is that EVERYONE needs to participate in some way. If AWP staff are to blame for not doing their jobs appropriately, then we are just as guilty for what we are doing. Expressing your disgust, sadness, disbelief and outrage are only useful when combined with taking PROPER ACTION to support your concerns. If the only thing we do is post comments, get on each other's nerves, slam AWP, then we are all working IN FAVOR of the Ingraham's being permitted to carry on as usual. You decide what you want to happen. Then, if you sincerely believe yourself, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Once you have, post again and tell us what you have accomplished! Here's my list...I have personally visited the offices of: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins & Mike Michaud. I had a phone conversation with Sen. Deb Simpson and talked with the office of Chellie Pingree. I have talked twice and submitted photos to Commissioner Bradstreet. I have completed a report that details complaints against Fair Play Farm AND the Animal Welfare Department. Your choices are: do one or both of the suggestions above and provide a voice for the horses and support for the cause...OR do neither, and feel satisfied that you are supportive of Fair Play Farm and their business operations.
3/4/2010 Linda
I too believe the farm in Burnham should be checked. I hear (3rd party) that there are dead horses there as well.
3/4/2010 Everet
Instead of hearing from a 3rd party -- go see for yourself. Then judge.
3/4/2010 MaryAnn
Of course everything looks great now, Everet. Because they took all the dying horses away! If you are defending them, then you obviously didn't see the barely-standing, near-death's-door horses that we all saw!
3/4/2010 MaryAnn
Are you kidding me, Everet? You should have seen this place last month. It was death warmed over -- Horses left outside in crowded, miserable conditions. Ain't no way you'd be defending them if you saw it before lots of people started paying attention.
3/4/2010 Michelle #3
HEY! WHERE DID EVERYONE GO? HAVE I MISSED THE NEWS THAT THIS PROBLEM HAS BEEN SOLVED? Please do not sit back and rest now...just because things LOOK a little better right now, does not mean we are DONE. The more quiet we are, the easier it will be for FPF and AWP to go back to business as usual. Consider this...if we all go back to our comfortable little routines now, what have we accomplished? Truthfully, we have only created a small speedbump for the state to deal with. As for FPF, because of all the media coverage, PERHAPS THAT SERVED AS FREE ADVERTISING for them! Have you continued to make phone calls or send e-mails? I have - I hit DA Fowle and Gov. Baldacci's offices again yesterday, and talked with Rep. Bruce Bickford. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE...PLEASE TELL US HERE SO WE CAN GET MOTIVATED AGAIN! It's your decision. Just remember that you are able to make that choice for yourself...these animals can not do that.
3/5/2010 Margy
I have been sending weekly sets of "questions" to every member of the Ag Committee, I took the Commissioner of Agriculture off the list since Norma is his answering machine now instead of doing the job she was hired to do), I added the Attorney General to the list last week. I have gathered all kinds of information that has been available for years about Norma's complete disregard for livestock of any kind especially horses and sent that on it's way again for I think it is the 5th or 6th time. I am coming at this from an enforcement point of view and trying to get anyone to respond to that, I haven't had a single taker. I find that rather odd. In 2004 an agent was allowed to resign after complaint was filed that he didn't respond to a complaint, animals that were alive when the complaint was made later died. I am asking what is the difference between that agent failing to respond to a complaint and the Director failing to asign an agent to respond to a complaint? Other than the director of AWP being higher up the food chain I must be missing the difference. Like Maddy said, I am reloading too!
3/12/2010 Elaine
Me being a positive person, I think the young person that wanted to step up and be responsible for donations for those horses he saw coming in - in poor condition was speaking from a horse lovers heart. His intentions were good and its nice to see a young person take responsibility even though his idea wasn't in anyone's best interest. Sometimes the aged like me become cynical and can't see the good through fresh eyes.
3/15/2010 Kate
For all of the people that think that there is nothing going on there you are wrong. I drove past there just daysbefore the whole thing started and there were at least 12 or more horses standing in a pen that isn't even really big enough for 2 horses. Also for those of you people that say that they just take in sick and skinny horses and help them get better you obviously have no idea what is going on there!

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