Sea Briar

Courtesy

This horse, christened Sea Briar, was brought to Live and Let Live Rescue and Sanctuary in Chichester after being removed from St. Francis Farm Sanctuary & Rescue in Langdon in November.

Seven months after her arrest on animal cruelty charges, the operator of a Langdon horse sanctuary faces a new charge alleging she altered a certificate of veterinary inspection.

Olexandra Beck, 63, was charged with obstructing government administration, a misdemeanor, last week in Sullivan County Superior Court.

The charge alleges that in August 2018, Beck changed the certificate to obscure a description of a horse being too thin.

State authorities later seized 26 horses from Beck’s operation, the St. Francis Farm Sanctuary & Rescue in Langdon, after the N.H. Department of Agriculture raised concerns that the animals had inadequate food, water and medical care, according to a police affidavit filed in district court in Claremont.

The seizures took place in November and January. In late January, N.H. State Police arrested Beck on four misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty. The charges allege she allowed nine horses in her custody to go without “necessary sustenance.”

Beck has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial on the cruelty charges in February. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

St. Francis Farm Sanctuary & Rescue is registered with the N.H. Secretary of State’s Office as a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home horses and other animals that have been abused, abandoned or given up.

The Department of Agriculture initiated its investigation into Beck last September, after a veterinarian reported that a certificate of veterinary inspection had been altered, according to the affidavit, written by State Police Detective Michael J. McLaughlin.

A certificate of veterinary inspection is a statement of an animal’s health. States require these certificates when a horse is brought in from elsewhere.

The veterinarian said she had noted in the certificate her concerns that a horse named Woody was underweight, according to McLaughlin’s affidavit.

A second complaint about Woody’s condition came from the Missouri facility that received the horse from Beck, McLaughlin wrote.

Beck’s livestock dealer license, required to transfer animals out of the state, had expired in 2016, according to the affidavit.

During the fall and winter, Beck kept animals at four properties in Langdon, according to the affidavit, including two Holden Hill Road addresses. The Department of Agriculture determined she had more than 45 animals, 26 of them horses, McLaughlin wrote. The others included poultry and at least one goat.

During a September inspection of the Holden Hill Road properties, department staff observed “very thin” horses that did not seem to have access to water, horses that had not been fed as of early afternoon and housing conditions that violated state regulations, according to the affidavit.

When department staff returned to one of the Holden Hill Road properties in November, they found Beck had largely failed to comply with their recommendations, McLaughlin wrote. The horses seemed thinner, and were overdue for veterinary and dental attention and care for their hooves, according to the affidavit. Several seemed in “dire”need of medical care, including two that were extremely thin and lethargic, McLaughlin wrote.

In addition, the barn and shelter “would not be adequate to protect this number of animals during winter,” McLaughlin wrote.

Later that month, according to the affidavit, a judge signed a search warrant authorizing state authorities to seize the nine animals that seemed in the poorest condition.

Animal-rescue organizations helped transport and care for the animals, State Police said in a news release earlier this year.

In December, McLaughlin wrote, two landowners who allowed Beck to keep horses at their properties in Langdon told the Department of Agriculture that they thought Beck was not giving the horses enough food or water.

According to the affidavit, a judge authorized the seizure of Beck’s remaining 17 horses in January.

The nine horses removed from her custody in November had all gained weight in that time, McLaughlin wrote.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS.