MSPCA Law Enforcement Files 35 Charges of Animal Cruelty in “Endangered Breed” Cattle Case
Amherst Investigation of Kerry Cattle—an Endangered Breed—Results in Animal Cruelty Charges
Methuen, Mass. April 25, 2022 – Eight head of very rare “Kerry” cattle, along with one Holstein cow and 22 Saanen, Lamancha and Alpine-mix goats are available for adoption at the MSPCA at Nevins Farm following an animal cruelty investigation of an Amherst, Mass. property, the organization announced today.
The MSPCA has filed 35 counts of felony animal cruelty against Shannon Rice-Nichols of Hadley, Mass., who is set to be arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court on May 12.
Tom Grenham, director of law enforcement at the MSPCA, said his team responded to a request from the Amherst animal welfare officer on March 14. “It was very clear upon arrival that the animals were in very serious trouble, with one cow having already died and the others in need of dire medical attention,” he said.
Three animals—one cow and two goats—were suffering and had to be euthanized at the scene.
A veterinarian listed all of the cows as severely neglected and malnourished—and all were infected with parasites. The goats were described as severely neglected and malnourished, and also infected with both internal and external parasites.
“Unfortunately, our team was unable to save three animals who needed to be humanely euthanized by a veterinarian on the scene, which reinforces the disturbing nature of the case,” said Grenham.
Grenham added that the MSPCA is grateful for the assistance provided by the Amherst Police Department and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources’ Division of Animal Health.
Animal cruelty is a felony crime in Massachusetts, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Mission: A Brighter Future for the Survivors
The Nevins Farm team has been hard at work with the surviving cows and goats.
“Unfortunately half of the goat herd tested positive for an infectious disease called Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) and had to be humanely euthanized,” said Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell. “The remaining herd members that tested negative are considered exposed to CAE, but are thriving. We’ll be making the remaining herd available for adoption at a farm in which they can be the only goats and sheep on the property.”
Help for a Critically Endangered Breed
According to the American Kerry Cattle Association, these cows—and those like them—are most probably descendants of the Celtic Shorthorn, which were brought to Ireland as early as 2000 B.C. Kerries were first imported to the U.S. beginning in 1818 but have all but disappeared from the American landscape.
“We are working closely with the American Kerry Cattle Association now to help identify an adopter to ensure these individual animals will be well cared for and to aid in the preservation of this majestic breed,” said Keiley. “We’re excited that the work we have done to protect and care for these animals may also prevent this breed of cattle from going extinct.”
The Nevins Farm team is eager to match the animals with would-be adopters. Anyone interested can contact the farm via mspca.org/nevinsadopt.
The Kerry cows and goats are just some of the thousands of animals the MSPCA will care for in 2022. The organization recently marked its inaugural Giving Day to highlight its animal protection successes—from distributing 3.5 million pet meals to families in need, to re-homing some 10,000 pets surrendered by their owners, and providing subsidized medical care to nearly 15,000 animals in the last year alone. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so here.