AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A property owner in Amherst pleaded not guilty Thursday to 35 counts of animal cruelty after an investigation found goats and cows allegedly neglected.
According to a news release sent to 22News from Northwestern District Attorney’s Office Spokesperson Laurie Loisel, Shannon Rice-Nichols of Hadley is now prohibited from possessing any farm animals after she pleaded not guilty to 35 felony counts of animal cruelty during her arraignment in Eastern Hampshire District Court.
Rice-Nichols was released on personal recognizance and is ordered to stay away from Thistlebloom Farm located on South East Street in Amherst, where the animals were boarded.
An investigation was conducted in March following a request from an animal welfare officer for the town of Amherst into the neglect and malnourishment of animals at an Amherst farm. Rice-Nichols had been boarding her animals there, eight very rare Kerry cattle, one Holstein cow and 22 Saanen, Lamancha and Alpine-mix goats.
A cow and two goats had to be euthanized due to their poor conditions. The remaining animals are being cared for at Nevins Farm in Methuen and the MSPCA is looking for adopters to give these animals eight head of Kerry cattle, a Holstein cow, and 22 goats new homes. Anyone interested in adopting can apply at www.mspca.org/nevinsadopt.
Members of the Amherst Police Department, MSPCA, and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources’ Division of Animal Health conducted the investigation.