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Western New Jersey

Owner of New Jersey horse therapy farm charged with animal cruelty

VIDEO Owner of New Jersey horse farm...

BLOOMSBURY, N.J. - Dozens of horses have been removed from a riding center in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

The owner is charged with animal cruelty after five other horses had to be put down because of botulism.

"This is Atticus," said Dawn Fry of Acres Away, a horse farm in Flemington, New Jersey.

He's one of more than a dozen Fry took in from Horse's for Hope. Fry said Atticus has come a long way since taking him and the others into her Hunterdon County horse farm this spring.

The New Jersey SPCA removed 37 total horses from Horses for Hope, a so-called therapeutic riding center in Pohatcong Township run by Aiyanna Callaway, of Bangor, Northampton County.

Pannikkar leases a field for her horses next to where Callaway did.

"Every day you'd have to come and worry is there another dead horse today," said horse owner Amy Pannikkar. "I saw 5 dead horses."

The SPCA says they were euthanized because of botulism.

One of them was Ruby, who was found suffering. She was put down that day but Callaway, the SPCA said, was nowhere to be found on the property.

Thirteen of the 37 horses were emaciated. Callaway is charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty.

Pannikkar said Callaway would feed the horses hay wrapped in plastic.

"She probably didn't know botulism was in the hay. But it's common knowledge not to feed horses round barrels of hay in plastic," Panikkar explained.

SPCA also found tubs of frozen water and said the animals only access to water was a nearby pond that collected run-off feces and urine.

"A bus would pass right there and they would see the horses put down," neighbor Mercy Moss said.

Moss said her kids saw the bodies in the field coming home from school.

69 News reached out to Callaway but have not heard back.

"Anyone who donates to these charities has to be extremely careful and check it out," property owner Art Weeks said.

Weeks said Callaway told him she was helping disabled kids but he never saw it.

The SPCA said Callaway told people to lie to authorities about the horse therapy program to avoid attaining a horse dealer license.

Callaway is due in court July 13th.

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