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Owner Of Camden County Horse Sanctuary Denies Keeping The Horses In Poor Conditions

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WATERFORD, N.J. (CBS) -- The owner of the Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary in Waterford Township has been charged with over 60 counts related to animal neglect and animal cruelty.

Officials launched an investigation into the conditions at the animal sanctuary that housed approximately 70 animals and found them in a dire situation.

Sarah Rabinowitz, the 62-year-old owner of the sanctuary, was issued an immediate court order to fix the lack of insufficient water sources and inadequate sheltering provided to the animals in her care. After receiving her summons she was released pending a future court date.

Rabinowitz told Eyewitness News that she doesn't feel she is neglecting or abusing the animals.

"The condition of the animals is extremely good," said Rabinowitz.

Ellen Strack, director of the South Jersey Horse Rescue, reported the extremely concerning conditions that the animals were in leading up to the search by officials.

"Six or seven horses have died in the last month or two, because they didn't have water in that heat," Strack said.

She explained that she had begged Rabinowitz to allow her to visit so that she could offer some help after many neighbors became concerned with what they were seeing occurring at the sanctuary.

Cleve horse photo labrador hill equine sanctuary
Credit: CBS3.

Upon arrival, she found that out of the majority of horses only four or five were at a healthy body weight.

"I treated some wounds while I was there, but I saw 68 horses, donkey's, mules, probably 3 or 4 had normal body weight," said Strack.

Strack, who explained that the age of horses can be discerned by their teeth, emphasized that many of the horses were not necessarily old, but were in very bad health. She stated that some of the horses at the sanctuary were as young as six or seven years old.

Horses were allegedly suffering from EPM (a neurological disease caused by infection), staggering around, appeared starved, and some had gaping wounds with maggots in them.

In a Facebook post, Ellen Strack further expressed knowledge of proper care techniques for horses that she emphasized were overlooked by Rabinowitz at the Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary.

According to Strack, Rabinowitz refused to accept hay or meals for the horses.

Furthermore, in January the SPCA filed 71 counts of animal cruelty against Rabinowitz but nothing came of it.

During her recent visit to the sanctuary, Strack was only allowed to provide minimal care to the horses and finally decided that enough was enough. She doesn't know what prompted the sanctuary to mistreat the animals, but she images that Rabinowitz "just snapped".

Others that were a witness to the search were urging those that kept their horses at the Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary to come and get their horses.

Those posts also alleged starvation and neglect.

A recent Facebook post, no longer available to the public, from the Labrador Hill Equine Sanctuary solicited donations for their senior horses and donkeys.

The Camden County Prosecutors Office says the Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey SPCA are monitoring the situation at Labrador Hill Daily.

This is an ongoing investigation.

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