Bones and 7 dead sheep found at CT farm before state seized 100 animals in raid, warrant shows

FILE PHOTO — Investigators with the state Department of Agriculture discovered seven dead sheep on a Beacon Falls farm the day before 100 animals were removed from the property, according to a search warrant. The sheep in this photo were not at the Beacon Falls farm.

FILE PHOTO — Investigators with the state Department of Agriculture discovered seven dead sheep on a Beacon Falls farm the day before 100 animals were removed from the property, according to a search warrant. The sheep in this photo were not at the Beacon Falls farm.

Arnold Gold/Hearst Connecticut Media

BEACON FALLS — Two lambs and five adult sheep were found dead at a Lopus Road farm the day before investigators seized 100 animals during a raid of the property, according to a search warrant obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group. 

In total, 99 sheep and one goose were seized as a result of the raid, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Officials said 15 cats were also voluntarily surrendered to Woodbridge Regional Animal Control. 

The probe was triggered by a civilian complaint about the farm, according to the search warrant. The neighbor contacted the Department of Agriculture on Feb. 22 to report vultures were feeding on several sheep carcasses on the property, the warrant said. She said the carcasses had been present for several weeks, the warrant stated.

Real estate listings indicate the property, located in the 390 block of Lopus Road, encompasses 5.3 acres of land. It includes a two-story colonial-style house, an attached three-car garage and a 1.5-story red wooden barn, according to the warrant. The barn is listed on the Historic Barns of Connecticut registry.

Investigators returned to the farm the next day and seized 99 sheep, the Department of Agriculture said, 34 were lambs and 65 were adults. They will be evaluated and treated by state veterinarians until the case is adjudicated in the court system, the department said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said the investigation remains ongoing and could not comment on whether any charges are pending. Waterbury Police Lt. Ryan Bessette said Friday Patrick Dionne, who serves as animal control officer for Waterbury and Beacon Falls, has been placed on administrative leave amid the investigation.

When Department of Agriculture inspector Resha Jacquier and animal control officers Charles A. DellaRocco and Jeremy DePietro arrived at the farm on Feb. 23 to investigate, they found a mix of male and female sheep of all ages, according to the search warrant. Much of the flock had obvious signs of health problems, the warrant said.

Some sheep had not been sheared for several years and exhibited bald patches and skin conditions as a result, according to the warrant. Others were limping and one had difficulty standing, the warrant said. Their lameness was attributed to hoof overgrowth, the warrant stated.

During their inspection, Jacquier and the animal control officers noted the property was in poor condition, according to the warrant. The warrant said numerous beer cans were strewn about, the roof of the garage was caving in and pallets, fence posts, cat food containers and other debris littered the pasture, according to the warrant. Three dead sheep were located along the perimeter of the pasture, the warrant said. Mixed with the trash, the warrant said, were bones.

That same day, the animal control officers met with a resident of the property and the owner of the sheep, a 65-year-old man, according to the warrant. When asked about the dead sheep, the warrant stated, the owner said he had not been able to move the carcasses because he had not been feeling well, the warrant stated. He estimated there were 80 sheep and said he had more animals than usual because his truck had broken down, making it hard to transport them to auction, the warrant said. 

The owner agreed to show the officers around the farm, according to the warrant. In a small shed inaccessible to the other sheep, the warrant said, investigators discovered two ewes and three lambs, one of which was “visibly shivering” and one was dead. Explaining the dead lamb, the owner said the newborn animal had fallen into a bucket of water and drowned, the warrant stated.

Investigators observed the hay bedding in the shed was “damp and wet" and asked the owner if he provided heat lamps for the lambs, according to the warrant. While the owner answered that he did, the warrant stated, he said the original bulb had blown out and his recent illness had prevented him from installing a replacement. He also mentioned that some of his lambs needed to be bottle-fed because their mothers suffered from untreated mastitis, a bacterial infection of the udder, the warrant stated.

In a second structure on the property, investigators discovered a dead ewe, according to the warrant. Located on the west side of the barn, the warrant said, the structure was only big enough to house about 30 sheep. Another dead sheep was located in a pile of trash outside the barn, the warrant said. 

Concerned the shaking lamb would not survive the night without veterinary treatment, the investigators obtained the owner’s permission to take the animal and its mother into custody, according to the warrant.

The lamb was examined and treated at a Tufts veterinary clinic. Following treatment, the lamb and its mother were transported to the Department of Agriculture’s Niantic rescue barn, according to the warrant. The barn was constructed in 2002 to house horses and other large animals "that have been seized in cases of animal cruelty," the Department of Agriculture website states

Resources and support for animal owners facing hardship is available through the Department of Agriculture at 860-713-2500.