Horse camp owner charged with cruelty

The gate at XTC Ranch in Lake Clear is open Wednesday after state police made an unexpected visit. The gate is often closed with a chain and padlock. Visitors are directed to call for admittance. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

LAKE CLEAR — State police seized eight horses from XTC Ranch on Forest Home Road Wednesday, charging ranch owner Travis DeValinger with eight counts of animal cruelty.

Public Information Officer Jennifer Fleischman of the state police at Ray Brook said the officers were responding to multiple complaints about the conditions of the horses at XTC Ranch. Of the 40 horses on the property, 23 were examined by local veterinarians and their condition ranked on the Henneke scale, a standardized scoring system widely used by law enforcement agencies to score a horse’s body condition in cruelty cases.

The Henneke scale rates body condition from 1 to 10. On the scale, 1 means that the bones in the neck, ribs, hips, spine and tail area protrude; a 3 means the ribs and hips are easily discernible. Veterinarians consider 4 to 7 acceptable. A 10 means the horse is severely overweight.

The condition of the eight seized horses was “3 and under,” said Fleischman.

Several of the horses were found to have their hooves overgrown and in need of farrier care. One elderly horse, age 40, may need to be euthanized if it doesn’t respond soon to rehabilitation efforts.

State police seized eight horses in a state of neglect from XTC Ranch in Lake Clear on Wednesday. The investigation is ongoing. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)

Devalinger, 44, was charged with eight counts of animal cruelty under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, Section 353. According to that law, it is a Class A misdemeanor when a person “deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink.”

He was issued appearance tickets to appear in the town of Harrietstown court on Dec. 18.

State police were assisted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and persons associated with the national SPCA.

The investigation is ongoing. Citizens with information that would assist in the investigation are urged to call state police in Ray Brook at 518-873-2750.

XTC Ranch also operates under other business names: Adirondack Equine Center, Adirondack Equine Center and Horse Rescue, and Saddleback Horse Camp of Lake Placid. The ranch offers sleigh rides in the winter and operates week-long camps in the summer for children.

Horses in the paddocks nearest the road at XTC Ranch appear to be adequately fed and in good health. (Enterprise photo — Glynis Hart)