Krittr Kris and Feathered Friends Wildlife Rehabilitators

Mary Novick met Cracker Box Palace almost two years to the day at our Gala Ball. Shortly after meeting her there, we got a call from her regarding a donkey that was living in a horse trailer and needed help. So off we went to pick up our dear Merribelle. Mary has been with us ever since! She and her husband Art, would come religiously every weekend to visit with and bring treats to our donkey then, donkeys now! She would help with chores, helped with events, followed by joining our board of directors and writing grants for the farm! She helped us with our first community involvement grant to Xerox to build Merribelle’s “Maternity Pen” and then a new Rabbit Run off the Ice House building at the Cow Barn. Her volunteerism at Cracker Box has now earned her a six month stint working to help us expand our existing fundraising activities, increase the awareness of CBP and the programs and services. Thank you again Mary for everything and we hope you enjoy your time with us! We hope to make you proud!


Like Trail Riding?

A good portion of this summer was spent working on trail development with our partners at Genesee Land Trust.  By spring of 2012 there will be beautiful trails out in the woods and around the farm marked for horseback riding and hiking. Our next step in our project is to host fundraising trail rides in support of the shelter and to form a fun and informal Trail Club that will enjoy the trails and inspire people to dust off their saddles and go for a ride! If you’re interested in joining in on the Trail Club committee, or would like to be on our mailing list this spring for upcoming rides and events, please drop us a note or letter at
or by mail to Cracker Box Palace – “Trail Rides” PO Box 174, Alton, NY 14413!

4 horses from Clyde, NY cruelty case are recovering at CBP

Another heartbreaking cruelty case – four more horses are now in CBP’s care by Alice Irwin

Magic, malnourished neglected horse taken in to Cracker Box PalaceOnce again, Cracker Box Palace has been called upon by the Wayne County District Attorney’s office to take in horses whose owner has been charged with animal cruelty. On July 22, animal cruelty investigators and the Wayne County Sheriff’s office ordered six horses to be seized from owner Amy Burdick of Foxfire Stables in Clyde, NY. Burdick was charged with four counts of animal cruelty and all six horses were removed from her property and taken to Cracker Box Palace at the request of the county. A seventh horse had recently passed away.

It’s important to note that Cracker Box Palace does NOT conduct investigations or randomly remove animals from people’s homes. Investigations are conducted by Wayne County Animal Cruelty Investigators, who work with law enforcement agencies when it has been determined that cruelty or abuse may be occurring. Cracker Box Palace’s Large Animal Rescue Team is called upon by the county to assist in removing animals in cruelty, abuse, or neglect situations.

All of the horses were examined by veterinarians and blood tests were done to determine if there were any underlying medical conditions that needed to be treated. Two of the horses were body-scored between 3 and 4; the other four horses scored between 1.5 and 2.5. They were emaciated with protruding hip and rib bones, had rain rot on their backs, needed farrier services on their hooves, and needed dental work done. One of the horses had grain impacted between its teeth, and another had lesions in its mouth due to lack of dental care. Magic, a 26 year old thoroughbred gelding, was by far in the worst condition. He also had an old eye injury that had been left untreated. During Magic’s first days at CBP, he would just stand in his stall with his head down, up against the wall.

On July 29, Burdick was arrested, and on August 5, Cracker Box Palace, Cruelty Investigator Bob Howard, and Dr. David Trachtenberg of Ledgewood Equine Clinic were requested to appear in the Town of Galen Court at a bond hearing, where District Attorney Rick Healy requested that Burdick post a bond to pay for the horses’ care while they are at Cracker Box Palace. A fee of $10/day/horse was requested for a period of 60 days. Dr. Trachtenberg was questioned for nearly an hour by Burdick’s attorney regarding each of the horses’ condition. The attorney repeatedly asked Dr. Trachtenberg why he was qualified to assess the condition of the horses. Dr. Trachtenberg is a graduate of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and is the owner of Ledgewood Equine Veterinary Clinic. He has practiced medicine in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania, and began his own ambulatory practice in 1994. Cruelty Investigator Howard testified as to the condition of the horses and said that he has been to Foxfire Stables several times since January 2010, acting on calls that horses there were in poor condition. Cheri Roloson, CBP’s founder and farm manager, was called upon to testify as to the cost of caring for the horses.

LP, a 27 year-old Arab-cross gelding putting on weight during recoveryAfter all was said and done, the judge agreed that Burdick should post a bond in the amount of $2400.00, which would cover the cost of care of four horses for 60 days. The reason that only four horses were included is that the judge also saw fit to release two of the horses back into the care of Burdick! WHAT? You heard that right…with criminal charges pending against the owner the judge declared that the two horses that were not included in the cruelty charges must be released from CBP back to Burdick…with the stipulation that the cruelty investigators be allowed on her property at any time to monitor the condition of her animals.

Everyone was shocked, stunned, and amazed at this outcome, and District Attorney Healy vigorously protested the decision. The decision, however, stood, and later that afternoon Burdick came to CBP (3 hours late) to pick up the horses. Her only comment was to the extent that she was upset because the horses hadn’t been brushed, even though over the past two weeks they had received much needed veterinary care, proper feed and supplements. One of the horses, River, still needed dental work done, but had to be given back anyway.

Burdick, who proclaims that she runs a “private horse rescue” operation, is scheduled to appear in court to answer to the criminal cruelty charges later in August. Should she be acquitted of the crimes, it is most likely that all of her horses would have to be returned to her…a possibility that makes all of us at CBP heartsick.

The process of getting the horses back to health is well underway. In addition to Magic, the horses include Nora, a nine year old thoroughbred mare, Skip, a 20-ish palomino gelding, and LP, a 27 year old Arab cross gelding. Helping animals in this condition is a long and slow process, as Cheri describes… “When we get horses in from any cruelty investigation or in general… we have the vet in first. We need to run their blood to see what they have and if they can even be put on certain medicines. Magic and Pee both had conditions that had us wait on administering drugs. Pee had high liver counts, and Magic had high white cell counts that would indicate an infection somewhere. Once we know what we’re dealing with, then we administer what the vet thinks will be most effective for each animal. We put them on a re-feed program, as when we get animals in and don’t know their backgrounds, you have to be very careful what and how much you give them, or that in itself could make them very ill. We offer hay, water and minerals on a constant basis and then start several smaller offerings of grains and supplements throughout the day for week periods, increased every week. We also hand graze the horses to get them used to grass and pastures again.
Then we call the farrier. The feet will be evaluated and trimmed. Treated if they need to be. When they’re acclimated to our facilities, we then start their worming program and immunizations.

Everything is done in small doses when they come in. It’s a lot for any animal to change its environment, let alone be in poor shape changing its environment. We treat injuries that can topically be treated immediately, but in Magic’s case, he has an old eye injury that will need to be treated when he’s stronger. They’re all being treated for rain rot (a skin disorder ) and Pee, when we get his second blood report will be put on something to keep him comfortable for his bent leg.

It will be a long process to bring them back, but we’ve already seen them get perkier… and that in itself is always a good sign.”

It’s difficult to say why or how animals get into this bad a condition. Cheri offered some insight based on her decades of animal care and 10 years of operating a farm animal shelter, saying “I do know that so many times, we have seen and we KNOW first hand how easy it is to get in over your heads. There will always be people wanting you to take your animals, but not always the funds, the room or the manpower to keep up with them once you have them. It is A LOT of work to rehab animals. And it’s really easy for a well meaning person to become overwhelmed and stuck in shelter fatigue. You have to know your limits. And there are definite limits to every shelter. As much as you may love the animals you work with and hurt for those you can’t fit in, you won’t be able to keep up with all of them if you take in too many.

Magic, LP, Skip, and Nora are on the road to recovery. All of us at CBP pray that justice will be served and that the horses will be able to remain in our care to complete their journey to a full recovery and find new, loving forever-homes when they are ready to be released from our care.

We’ll keep you posted on their progress and the legal outcome of the cruelty case.

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