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After the city Parks Department revealed a ramshackle Howard Beach stable was penning hard-luck horses in squalor and shut down the operation, an animal rights group said inspections failed to yield evidence of equine cruelty.
A spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it received numerous objections to conditions at Cedar Stable Lanes, a boarding area for horses operated by the Federation of Black Cowboys in Tutor Park in Howard Beach, but no evidence of poor treatment was uncovered during inspections last year.
“The ASPCA has responded to several complaints at this location and in the instances to which we responded there was no cruelty found,” said spokesman Bret Hopman.
Parks did not return a request for comment on the discrepancy between itself and the ASPCA, but the department temporarily shut down the stables, at 83-12 S. Conduit Ave., after “an alarming number of horse fatalities and health issues at the site,” said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson.
The stable had a “rough board” agreement with owners, meaning the federation provides stable space while horse owners were responsible for oversight of each animal.
“The fatalities and problems with the physical conditions of the facilities make it clear that this ‘rough board’ agreement can no longer work,” said Abramson. “While the Parks Department supports the educational mission of the Federation of Black Cowboys, for the safety and well-being of the horses who reside there the Parks Department has suspended operations under the license agreement.”
The “rough board” agreement allows the federation to rent out close to 50 stalls to individual horse owners for $165 a month, while the federation is under no obligation to care for the animals.
It was under this agreement that six animals died in 2012 between July 18 and Dec. 21 at the stables.
The Parks spokesman said the department regularly sends inspectors to its concessions and communicates with the operators. In this case, Abramson said the federation had been monitoring the conditions at the stable since the first equine death occurred in July.
Parks said the federation may resume operations if, within six months, it brings the stables into compliance with all laws, rules and regulations applicable to a “full board” agreement under which the federation will assume responsibility for the horses’ welfare.
As for the surviving horses at the stables, Parks is working with the federation to temporarily relocate the animals that are boarded there with their individual owners. The department said it provided owners with lists of other stables nearby as well as rescue and adoption organizations that can take in any horses that may be abandoned.
Kesha Morse, president of the Federation of Black Cowboys, chose not to comment at length when reached by phone, but did say the federation is cooperating with the Parks Department.
A meeting between the federation and Borough President Helen Marshall is currently being planned, according to Marshall’s spokesman.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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