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The Otsego County Sheriff’s Office has identified the New Lisbon couple facing animal cruelty charges after they say more than a hundred animals were found in deplorable conditions over the weekend.
William Desimone, 43, and Gabrielle Bastian, 52, are each charged with five counts of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals (failure to provide proper sustenance), one count of growing marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana.
Gabrielle Bastian, 52, and William Desimone, 43, both of New Lisbon.
Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin says a deputy responded to the farm at 166 Backus Rd. in New Lisbon Friday evening after a passerby reported an electrocuted goose caught in the fence in front of the residence. When the responding deputy arrived on scene she found the dead goose at the fence, and as she tried contacting the homeowners she heard dogs in the lower part of the basement.
Neighbors told the deputy that the homeowners are home intermittently, and that complaints had been filed with the local Animal Control officer. The Animal Control officer, Elizabeth Fish, was called to the scene and the two officers attempted to check on the dogs.
Deputies say seven dogs were found in the basement, one of which was locked inside a standing wire cage half-full of excrement, and one of which was tied to a wall with a rope only the length of its body, standing on inches of excrement.
Deputies say the door to the side basement could only be pushed open a few inches due to the depth of excrement piled on the floor. Five of the seven dogs in the basement were living in that room, and there was no food or water for any of the seven dogs in the basement. Devlin says it’s unknown at this time how long the dogs were left in those conditions, and what medical conditions might exist for the dogs.
One witness reported to deputies that the owners had not been seen at the home in a week.
Devlin says when the owners were finally contacted, they said they were about three hours away and that they would be returning home.
Other members of the Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene, and they found dozens more animals across the property in the same deplorable conditions. Once the homeowners arrived home and were interviewed by officials, the property was searched.
The total number of animals found and seized included: 20 pigs, 7 donkeys, 13 chickens, three ducks, 25 geese, 13 sheep, seven rabbits, nine dogs, one turkey, one guinea hen, two parakeets, one pigeon, one cat and one tortoise.
Deputies say all of the animals were either without food, water or both, and they were all living on top of excrement ranging from inches to a foot deep, or wallowing belly-deep in feces and mud.
Deputies say some of the animals were being kept in areas so small they barely had room to turn around, and some of the animals shared over-crowded gages, causing fighting and loss of feathers and fur.
The ASPCA and the Susquehanna Animal Shelter were contacted to assist with the animals, and staff from the Leatherstocking Vet Group checked out all of the animals. According to the Susquehanna Animal Shelter, all of the farm animals had found new homes by Saturday evening. The nine dogs and the one cat are currently being cared for at the Susquehanna Animal Shelter.
Deputies say they also found two areas dedicated to growing marijuana inside the home, and they seized 50 plants and a quantity of dried marijuana.
Susquehanna Animal Shelter Executive Director Stacie Hynes says it may be a while before they will be avilable to be put up for adoption.
Hynes says this is one of the worst cases of anmal cruelty she's ever seen, "When I got there at 3 o'clock, no it was 4 o'clock in the morning, it was still dark and so it's just get out the flashlight and the flashlight here and you see an animal suffering, you have a flashlight here and you may see a dead animal."
Hynes says she does have compassion for the owners, "What could they be going through to think that treating animals this way is ok? At some point they must’ve taken good care of them."
William Desimone was issued an appearance ticket and released, and Gabrielle Bastian was arraigned in the Town of New Lisbon Court and she was being held at the Otsego County Jail on $2,500 cash bail. She was later released after posting bail.
Desimone and Bastian are scheduled to appear in the Town of New Lisbon Court again on April 25th.