Rescue efforts create ‘chaos’
Equine Angels founder, DA seek change
Butler Eagle
Written by:
August 14, 2013

WINFIELD TWP — The director of an embattled horse-rescue organization says it will not accept animals seized by prosecutors until some new measures are put into place.

“We have to work together,” said Equine Angels Rescue founder Pamela Vivirito, who claims to have made more than 20 unanswered telephone calls to the office of District Attorney Richard Goldinger. “I think the DA needs to visit and see how much work and how much money goes into our rehabs.”

Goldinger, who acknowledges receiving “a few” phone calls from Vivirito says it’s not common practice for him to contact a witness in a case. Normally, he deals directly with the police, who communicate with the witnesses.

“Basically, she is just a citizen trying to do a good deed,” Goldinger said. “I deal directly with the police, not a witness.”

Vivirito and Goldinger agree that recent county cases in which animal abuse charges were filed by state police, and then withdrawn by Goldinger, against three local horses owners have resulted in turmoil.

Vivirito used the word, “chaos.” Goldinger called it “out of control.”

And both agree that a protocol needs to be established on how to deal with these cases in the future. Goldinger said a team is being assembled to do that now.

But that’s where the agreeing ends.

One of the points in contention is the costs to care for more than 20 horses still in the care of Equine Angels Rescue because they were seized as part of a criminal case. In one of the three situations alone, Vivirito said Equine Angels Rescue has spent more than $15,000 on food and medical care for one person’s horses.

Vivirito said she anticipated this money being ordered as restitution at the resolution of the criminal cases.

“But if the district attorney is going to dismiss these charges, we aren’t going to recoup that money. We cannot keep rehabbing animals for free,” Vivirito said. “We’re not storing boats or clothes here. These are live animals we are talking about.”

However, Goldinger said he’s not sure reimbursement was ever in the picture.

Goldinger said Equine Angels Rescue advertises itself as a charity and accepts donations to cover the expense of rehabilitating horses.

“I’m not sure you can take a donation from one person, then get reimbursed by another person for the same expense,” Goldinger said. “Quite frankly, I don’t know the answer, but that does not seem right. If it’s money personally out of her pocket, she might be entitled to some reimbursement from the horses’ owners. But if she received donations to cover these costs, I’m not sure.”

Vivirito said Goldinger would have a change of heart if he visited the Equine Angels Rescue stables on Durango Lane and saw the effort, supplies and love put into each animal’s care.

“I’ve never been invited down to see the place,” Goldinger said. “But I have horses. I’m familiar with the horse world, the type of cost and care it takes.”

Each person also offered a final thought for consideration.

Vivirito said there is an anticipation of “a bad hay year,” and rising feed costs heading into the winter months.

“Once winter hits and people cannot afford to feed the animals he (Goldinger) will be storm loaded with neglected animals and someone is going to have to take them in,” Vivirito said. “We’re the only one that will take them. I think the DA needs to make a major effort to be more affiliated with this rescue.”

But Goldinger stressed that his office already has been more involved with these cases than is the norm.

“These are summary (charge) cases, like traffic tickets,” Goldinger said. “Our office just doesn’t normally get involved in summary cases.”