Middleport farmer facing animal cruelty charges after neglecting 45 cattle

MIDDLEPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — A farmer in Niagara County is facing animal cruelty charges after neglecting dozens of animals on his property.

Niagara County SPCA agents say they’ve been to his Middleport farm before. Over the past few months they’ve been warning the owner to improve the animals conditions but since that hasn’t happened and conditions have continued to get worse the SPCA decided to step in.

During an inspection Tuesday SPCA agents found several dead cattle.

Animal cruelty investigators say animals have been found on a Middleport farm without water or food multiple times since April.

“All bones are visible there’s hardly any type of meat on these animals they are dying left and right,” said Lauren Zaninovich, SPCA of Niagara Cruelty Investigator.

“They’re very under weight, they’re probably at least a couple hundred pounds under weight which is partially due to our extremely hot summer,” said Kevin Consitine, farrier.

Many of the cattle were found emaciated and weak. There were also several sick cats and ducks on the property.

“We gave the owner ample opportunity to work with us in correcting the situation unfortunately he failed to do so so now we are in a situation where these animals are under our care and pending court hearing,” said Zaninovich.

The owner of the property, Richard Heschke, was arraigned on 47 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. He’s charged with failing to provide care for 45 cattle and two pigs.

Investigators say Heschke is in his 80’s and was caring for the animals on his own.

“He cannot give us a straight answer due to his age and other possible mental problems or mental issues that he is facing. It’s a difficult situation he can’t remember when he feeds them or he says that he has but we know he hasn’t,” said Zaninovich.

Investigators say they reached out to Heschke’s family members but no one stepped in to help him. A hearing is set for this Tuesday at 7 pm in Hartland court.

The SPCA of Niagara is looking for donations of hay and feed and they’re also looking for people in the farming community who might be willing to take some of these animals in if custody is awarded to them.

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