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High-Profile Schenectady County Animal Cruelty Case Settled

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WikiMedia Commons

Updated 1/14/16: Charges against Glenville farmer Joshua Rockwood were dismissed in town court Tuesday night.

Charges against Glenville farmer Joshua Rockwood were dismissed in town court Tuesday night.

During last year’s harsh winter, Rockwood had animals confiscated after police responded to a call of potential animal abuse on his West Wind Acres farm. Investigators reportedly found animals without water and pigs with frostbitten ears. Rockwood was charged with 13 misdimeanor counts of “failure to provide sustenance” to his animals.

Andrew Safranko is Rockwood's defense attorney.

“Just happy to get this behind Mr. Rockwood and glad that the charges all are going to be ultimately dismissed so Mr. Rockwood can go back to what he does best, and that’s farming,” said Safranko.

Schenectady County Assistant District Attorney John Carson said Rockwood has made several improvements to his property since the case began. Rockwood drilled two wells and installed tanks to provide more water, added electricity to his barn, and made other upgrades.

“Based on the changes, it appears legally appropriate now for the animals to be there. And because this case was never about punishment, it was appropriate to resolve the case in the fashion that it was resolved.”

Safranko said many of the improvements had been in the works before police arrived at Rockwood’s property last year.

“Mr. Rockwood treats his animals with the upmost of respect and dignity. Last year was a tremendously cold winter. In fact, the day that the horses were removed from his farm was also the day the water pipes froze in the Town of Glenville.”

Rockwood also agreed to pay $9,000 in restitution to a local veterinarian and an animal rescue for caring for three horses over a period of 10 months.

Rockwood’s case generated a groundswell of support from farmers across the country. Dozens turned out to protest the charges and support Rockwood at his court appearances last year. More than $72,000 was raised online to support Rockwood’s legal costs.

Steve Ammerman, a spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, said the support for Rockwood and the dismissal of the charges shows people outside the agricultural industry lack understanding.

“I think people need to take a step back and realize that farming is a very tough business and farmers like Mr. Rockwood are trying their best to do it right. And the support that was shown was, I think, very good to see in the end that he had that backing, and that it wasn’t just farmers, but also his customers who know him and knew his products were able to support him.”

Rockwoodsaid on his internet fundraising page that he will continue to invest and make improvements to farm, including adding greenhouses and a weaning area for piglets. He said the farm is ready to offer CSA shares and is looking for additional properties to lease for more cattle and sheep pastures.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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