State Moves for Custody of 99 Sheep; Owner Charged with Animal Cruelty

Attorney General William Tong Thursday moved for state custody of 99 neglected sheep and one goose seized from a Beacon Falls farm last month.

Following a complaint from a concerned neighbor last month, state animal control officers visited the 5-acre property at 392 Lopus Rd in Beacon Falls owned by David Chesnutis.

According to a release from Attorney General Tong’s office, the property was highly unsanitary, strewn with trash, empty beer cans, construction debris, wooden pallets, and empty food containers. The sheep were unshorn, with overgrown hooves. Some were missing fleece and suffering from skin conditions, parasites, and lice. Numerous bones and carcasses of deceased sheep were found. The sheep lacked adequate food, shelter, and warmth for the winter conditions. Mr. Chesnutis voluntarily allowed the officers to remove one ewe and one lamb in need of immediate medical care.

The officers secured a warrant and returned to the property the following day to seize 99 sheep and one goose.

According to the search warrant application a resident ha contacted the CT Dept of Agriculture on Feb 22 to report there were several dead sheep on the property and had been there for a few weeks. The resident said that vultures were eating the dead sheep. The next day, CT Dept of Agriculture inspection representative and other affiants arrived at the property on 392 Lopus Rd and could see from the property next door there were about 55 to70 sheep including male, female, young and old, some appearing hot to have been sheared for at least three years, some limping and one observed to have difficulty getting up. They could see at least two dead sheep as well as a great deal of debris including trash and empty beer cans.

That same day the Dept of Agriculture inspection rep made contact with Mr. Chesnutis and was given permission to inspect the animals.

State exhibits.
State exhibits
State exhibits
State exhibits
State exhibits

“When asked about the visible carcasses, Chesnutis claimed he had not been feeling well lately and had been physically unable to move the carcasses to a place where they could be composted.”

Chesnutis said he had more animals than he typically did because his truck was broken and it was difficult to move them to auction.

“Chesnutis also stated that he doesn’t have a veterinarian because he knows more than they know and that it is difficult to find a large animal vet that sees more than just dogs and cats.”

According to the court paperwork, during a tour of the property, there were two ewes in a small shed that Chesnutis stated were born the previous night to a lamb that was visibly shivering at the time of inspection. “The second ewe had birthed two lambs, one of which was dead. Chestnutis stated that the lamb had died because it had fallen into the water bucket and drowned.”

When Chesnutis was asked if heat lamps were provided for the lambs, Chesnutis stated that he had one, but the bulb had blown out and that had a replacement bulb but because was as not feeling well hadn’t replaced it yet.

In a second structure there was another dead ewe. Along the perimeter of the pasture, three more dead sheep were located. Yet another dead sheep was found outside the barn mixed in a pile of trash. In total there were five adult sheep and two dead lambs on the property.

The pasture was littered with debris, including pallets, cat food containers, fence posts, construction debris and general trash.

There was evidence that there were other animal carcasses mixed in.

There were many sheep that had not been shorn in several years and sheep were observed with excess growth of wood that exhibited skin conditions and bald patches.several sheep were observed with lameness due to overgrown hooves.

The same day, the ewe with her shaking lamb were taken from the property with permission of Mr. Chesnutis and brought to a veterinarian for treatment. After medical treatment the lamb and ewe were transported to the Connecticut Dept of Agriculture rescue barn in Niantic.

Also, Chesnutis voluntarily consented to the removal of 21 cats who were transferred to the care of Woodbridge animal control.

Today, the sheep and goose are currently being cared for at the Dept of Agriculture’s Second Change Large Animal Rehabilitation Facility in Niantic.

The State of Connecticut has also charged Chesnutis with the crime of animal cruelty in violation of CGS 53-247.

“The conditions at this property were beyond deplorable, and the sheep were severely neglected. We are moving for permanent state custody to ensure these animals receive the care and treatment they urgently require and deserve,” said Attorney General Tong in a release on Thursday. “State intervention is a last resort in cases of severe neglect and abuse. If you are an animal owner in need, please reach out to the state, your town, or any one of our state’s animal welfare non-profits to ask for help before any animal is harmed.”

If you suspect animal cruelty, reports can be made directly to the local animal control department or contact the Department of Agriculture at 860-713-2506 or [email protected].

Assistant Attorney General Daniel Salton and Deputy Associate Attorney General Matthew Levine, Head of the Environment Section, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.