Middletown PD: Three men charged with animal cruelty after horses, pony left outside without food, water

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Three Massachusetts men were arrested in Middletown on Friday on animal cruelty charges after police said four horses and a pony were left outside for days with no food or water.

Springfield residents 25-year-old Ricardo Javier Castellano, 19-year-old Erik Hernandez and 20-year-old Luis Xavier Ortiz-Santiago each face five counts of animal cruelty for the alleged neglect of the animals in their care, according to the Middletown Police Department.

Middletown Police Animal Control said officers responded to a boarding barn located at 205 Middle Street on Wednesday after receiving a report that the horses and pony had been let out of the barn and no one had visited the property to care for the animals since at least April 23.

When officers arrived, they reportedly found the horses and pony outside “in poor condition and undernourished” with no access to food or water. An inspection of the barn found unsanitary conditions and the absence of food on the property. Animal control officers and a resident, who lived in a home on the property that was unaffiliated with the boarding business, gave the animals water, cleaned their stalls and fed them donated hay, police said.

Middletown police continued their investigation and regularly checked on the animals. On Friday, as they were conducting a check, an animal control officer and a Middletown patrol officer said Castellano, Hernandez, and Ortiz-Santiago arrived on the property and claimed responsibility for the animal’s care, police said. The three men were subsequently arrested and charged.

Police said animal control had periodically monitored the well-being of the horses and pony since February when a welfare check to the property found that the animals lacked sufficient food and supplies. At the time, police said the responsible parties, identified as out-of-state residents unaffiliated with the property, had initially complied with animal control’s care instructions.

Castellano, Hernandez, and Ortiz-Santiago were released on $25,000 non-surety bonds and are scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on May 12, according to police.

Animal control officers said the unit and local residents will continue to care for the horses and pony as the investigation continues.