TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Dozens of animals were rescued from squalid conditions at a tenant farm in Westport last year and given a new home at a local animal sanctuary, where the public got a chance to meet them Saturday morning.
“You would never have known that they were in an abusive situation,” Courtney Tanguay, volunteer at the West Place Animal Sanctuary in Tiverton, said Saturday.
Hundreds of animals were removed from the farm last July after a police investigation found them living in their own waste and the bodies of other animals. Investigators said there were more than a thousand animals there, and 200 of them died on the property.
Dozens of those animals that were rescued were taken to West Place, the first organization which was able to take in any of the surviving animals. The sanctuary held its annual open house Saturday and offered visitors the chance to check in with some of them a year after their rescue.
“They’re doing wonderful today,” Tanguay said. “They look beautiful, most of them are very healthy, and happy, and free-roaming.”
The animals taken to West Place included llamas, peacocks, goats, and ducks.
Twenty-seven people were criminally charged in connection with the conditions at the farm, including the owner, 83-year-old Richard Medeiros, who pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of animal cruelty at his arraignment in May.
“To hear my little town was the site of this enormous animal cruelty case was really quite upsetting,” Kathy Feininger, founder of “Stop the Insanity Westport,” said. The group called attention to the conditions there and organized a memorial last month at Westport Town Hall.
The group is helping to raise money for West Place by selling decorative items, like the ones they displayed during the memorial, to make sure West Place has the funds it needs to continue to grow and help animals.
West Place functions primarily on donations and the work of volunteers. To learn how you can get involved, click here.