Several Middleport cattle dead, farmer facing animal cruelty charges

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MIDDLEPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara County SPCA agents spent Tuesday out on a farm on Drum Rd in Middleport after the owner, Richard Heschke was arraigned in Hartland court on 47 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

The owner is charged with failing to provide sustenance for 45 cattle and two sow. Several cattle were found deceased on the property during an SPCA inspection Tuesday.

SPCA Cruelty Investigator Lauren Zaninovich said, “The SPCA has attempted to work with the owner to improve the conditions of the animals over the past several months to give him an opportunity to avoid animal cruelty charges. The level of care continued to decline and we had to take action.”

On the SPCA’s last visit 30 days ago, the owner was ordered to rehome the cattle. After failing to comply with the terms of the last inspection, the SPCA seized the 47 animals on the owner’s property Tuesday and will provide food, water and care for them during the trial.

A hearing is set for next Tuesday at 7pm in Hartland court.

SPCA Executive Director Amy Lewis said “We hope to have custody of the animals awarded to the shelter. It is clear that Heschke can no longer care for the number of animals on his property. We would like to see them all adopted out to area farms that can properly care for them.”

Many of the animals were found in extremely thin condition and weak from lack of food. Many of the heifers on the property have been bred and it is unlikely that these animals will be able to survive the upcoming winter in their worsening condition. Several sick cats were removed from the home and brought back to the shelter for treatment and then placement for adoption once they are well. There are also several ducks on the property.

The SPCA is asking for donations of hay and feed and contacts in the farming community who may be willing to take in some of these animals if custody is awarded to the shelter.

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