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Horse Abuse and State Complacency Continue

Published: 2/16/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

Read Maine Public Broadcasting Network's story by clicking here
Read about dozens of Searsport horses left to die by clicking here

Are you a Maine taxpayer?

Are you a Maine voter?

These questions crossed my mind as I reviewed the salaries for Animal Welfare program director Norma Worley and the program’s Department of Agriculture veterinarian Dr. Christine Fraser.

Records from 2008 indicate Worley and Fraser each earn nearly $100,000 including wages and benefits.
Those figures are on line and supplied by the Maine Heritage Policy Center and their website

I ask you Dear Reader, if they are not responding to complaints and seizing animals in distress – what are they getting paid to do?

If your elected officials (governor, state senators and representatives) aren't concerned and acting to remedy what has become a massive, shameful Maine concern, what are they getting paid to do?

NickerNews is circulating a survey to gauge the public interest and concern on issues we've been covering. If you would like to receive a survey, contact NickerNews.

Click here to read about Abbey, bought and rescued from Fair Play Farm

Click here for Channel 5 story brief
Click here for original story
To read weekend story, click here
To read the complaint sent last week to Animal Welfare, click here.
To read about Creepy, click here.
To read about Paula, click here.
To read Tony LaPore’s conversation with NickerNews click here
Click here to offer help and to receive updates via NickerNews newsletter
Click here to download Take Action flyer --

Please check out the Channel 5 video and watch the woman at Fair Play Farm kick a horse for no apparent reason.
Meanwhile, NickerNews readers have sent photos and stories of additional at risk equines, adding to the pattern of Maine horse owner abuse and neglect paired with state inaction. Stay tuned for additional reports.

View Reader Comments:

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2/16/2010 Becky
AWP has a $15,000 budget to care for all the animals that cross their program all year or maybe that is marked for horses alone, either way that is not nearly enough. While Norma and Fraser kick back and ride the easy road on $100,000 a year!
2/16/2010 Joy
I don't understand why we need Norma and Dr. Fraser. I can understand the wages for Dr. Fraser, she is a vet and could be making far more elsewhere but I just don't get it on Norma's end of things. Definately a place for the Governor to save some money, put a bit more in to the fund for saving animals and hopefully have a better end result.
2/16/2010 Donna H
100K a year salary - doesn't salary usually mean you are required to work above and beyond a 40 hr week - including holidays weekends etc??? So what is stopping these "salaried" state AW employees from doing what they are paid/expected to do? We are!!! Because we have allowed them to do this up until this point. BUT NO MORE!!!!! Each and every person in the AW must be held accountable for their actions or inactions. If they have done nothing wrong - then they have nothing to worry about right ( I know there are 1 or 2 investigators that try to buck the AW system any way they can to try and help these animals so Kudos to them) but for everyone else who meekly stand by and do nothing "SHAME ON YOU"
2/16/2010 shannon
I am sorry but i drive by this horse farm everyday and these horses always appear to be eating a drinking and seem to have more and better shelter than many horses i see in peoples back yards. How quick we are to judge without knowing the whole story. Bless this owner for having heart to care for these animals that have neglected by previous owners!
2/16/2010 Michele Cole
I have first hand experience with Norma and got NO HELP at all for anyone in the state. If it was not for horse lovers in Maine and all across the country the horse I took in would have starved to death. The state takes money and thats it. Personally they are sitting and doing NOTHING, in my eyes they are just as bad as those that are doing the damage. A true horse lover wouldn't do this PERIOD. If they asked horse lovers to help with 100% each horse would have a new home.
2/16/2010 Deana T. Norwood
I think it is a shame that people are allowed to treat these precious animals this way. To kick a horse for no reason is horrible. I actually shuddered when I watched it on the news. People need to stand up for these animals because they cannot speak for themselves.
2/16/2010 Lisa
Just watched the channel 5 video.WHy did she kick that horse like that!??!?!Why is that OK?
2/16/2010 Gail
Under worked and over paid maybe?!?! Must be nice.... It's a small world, what goes around will come back around ladies!
2/16/2010 Margy
I have often wondered of late how the wages/salaries for AWP are justified of late. I also just watched the news video, quote from Dr. Don Henig "They are in the market of buying and selling horses..." This question popped right into my head immediately...what does that have to do with anything? How is this any different than someone raising dogs on a large scale that isn't taking proper care of them? AWP should not be picking and choosing when to enforce the laws of this state, if someone is in violation is doesn't matter if it's a guinea pig, chicken, dog, cat, horse or multiples of them.
2/16/2010 Kati
OK Thank you, when I saw the news clip last night and saw that woman kick the horse out of the way I was outraged. First off I dont think she knew she was being filmed, second you NEVER kick a horse in their legs, there is no fat or muscle in that area to protect their bones, tendons, and ligaments, and third of all isn't that ABUSE that the news crew caught on film? Aren't they investigating abuse of those animals but can't seem to prove anything, yet the news is showing clips like that. Abuse is abuse and no animal deserves to be treated like that.
2/16/2010 Shannon
We are all struggling in this economy to keep fences and shelters repaired and hay lofts full, but this farm is simply a DISGRACE! Even if they are supposedly "rescuing" sick and injured horses, simply bringing them to another sub-par farm only perpetuates the abuse. Not to mention KICKING that horse!! (Who has obviously learned that running away is the best response...I wonder what happens when they don't) For someone to be so brazenly neglectful of horses out in the open, it makes my skin crawl to think about those things you don't see when you "drive by." One horse suffering to death is one horse too many.
2/16/2010 Margy
Please check out the Maine Public Broadcasting website and their report on this.
2/16/2010 Terry
Yes, I drive by this place 2xs day. I know they put the ones by the road that are out back in at night because I go early in the morning and they are not out. But at night they are out, eating and drinking. On real bad snowy days I even see that all the horses in shelters are too. I also see a grain cart in the aisle when the door is open.
This is all so ridicoulus, i have been to Fair Play many times and every time i go i watch Alexis feed her horses. They always have food in their stalls or pastures. Alexis takes in abused horses and if it gets too cold out she will even put them in her indoor riding arena
2/17/2010 Estelle
Ok gang we need to push the burnham property the own just as hard as we are working for the Clinton horses, my guess is there are even more horses in even more desperate condtion there, yet hardly anything has been mentioned about that property that they have horses on. Clinton and Burnham need to start going hand in hand, Im sure the state is sighing a hugh sigh of relief that no one is pushing them on that site...PLEASE EVERYONE, put these two sites together with your compaints, we need pictures and stories from there also. I'd be she has moved a bunch of the ones from Clinton to Burnham, the ones she hasnt shot anyway. We need to push just as hard on that place.
2/17/2010 Lynne C. Michaud
WOW!!!Kicking a horse, and on TV!!!! You must be pulling my leg? GEE, I can't remember the last time I kicked a horse! How about, like NEVER!!!! Alexis, When was the last time somebody kicked you? Did you like it? How about this: A Fundraiser idea??? You hold a sign that says, "KICK ME"!!!!We will donate a bag of grain to do so.....Sound fair? How do you think the horses feel? Of , what a minute you don't give a shit! Were the horses in the night of the snow storm? Did they at least have blankets? Does anyone know about that poor downed colt, with the nasty blanket???? Did he ever get up? Or is he buried under the snow know? probably that poor dear soul did'nt make it!!!Horses can't lie down for that long. ON A FROZEN GROUND! UGH>>>>
2/17/2010 Isis
Looking at the pictures from the local news station I saw cold blooded drafts with good weight eating from round bales. It seems the TB and lactating mares were very thin which makes sense TB require a lot of feed to keep round..
2/19/2010 Judi
in the channel 5 video i cannot see if she made contact with the horse, can you? it could have been a "move out of my way" gesture rather than actual contact, just like any other horse would do to move another out of their way. yes the horse moved away quickly, but it could be conditioned response to a cue. this is certainly not to say that they are capable of keeping so many horses humanely. just my observation about the video clip.
2/25/2010 melisa
Honestly people. I've known alexis since kindergarden and she isn't about abusing animals. I've seen her feed and care for her critters! I'm a HUGE animal lover and I think people like her that take in abused or abandoned critters are a god send! And for all you people that think they know anything about recovering and nurturing a broken abused animal knows its a process and takes time! These animals come from BAD situatons and I don't see many people taking them in other then a few places that are already over filled. ... And I'm sure that's what alexis is all about. So all in all. Try getting the facts before accusing people of animal cruelty when they are doing more then most people are. Don't be so quick to judge
2/26/2010 seabreeze
The facts are out there. These people aren't upset because of unfounded rumors, they are upset because of FACTS.I don't want to see her or anyone else hurting , but its unfair that the animals in her care are hurting , and they have no choice.Although the people voicing opinions seem dramatic, its actually passion for the welfare of these horses.They don't just wake up one day and decide to go out on a witch hunt.Theres facts, documented proof that theres a problem, even the State has made it public they have been trying to fix the problem, albiet they have taken an unappropriate route, but the mere fact the divuldged that they feel theres a situation there that needs government intervention is proof that this horrible situation at FPF exists.If she was a close friend of mine, I would best support her by convincing her its ok to admit she's gotten in over her head and to accept responsibilty for whats happened, allow the authorities and public in to help,and that people understand its easy to get in over your head when it comes to horses, but its unacceptable to put your pride ahead of thier welfare, and support her throughout the proccess of what comes with "making things right". I have more respect for someone who can surrender thier pride to ensure the safety of these horses, than one who hangs on to denial because of the fear of repercostions.Sometimes we all have been in situations we've allowed to spiral out of control, but when it starts circling the drain, a compassionate person will know when to ask for help and forgiveness, and accept the consequences as some guesture of responsibility for thier actions, just as the authorities in this situation need to own it too.Noone is infalible, but burying heads in the sand is unacceptable while these beautiful animals suffer.Its all about doing the right thing,and throwing away ones selfish pride.God Bless
2/26/2010 Everet
Well Melisa you probably know far more than any of us know as you know what happens behind the scenes as a friend. We on the outside can only speculate, guess, and have a little tibbit of the truth. Be that friend, just like others believe what they wish to believe. We all have the right.

"It is the hardest pill for all of us would-be horsemen to swallow, but it is absolutely true - if the horse is not responding properly, we are doing something wrong" - Mary Twelveponies