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A happy ending is in the works for rescued farm animals at foreclosed Rhode Island sanctuary

December 10, 2009 |  6:48 pm

The residents of Bonniedale Farm, a recently-foreclosed farm animal sanctuary in Rhode Island, are in good hands today thanks to an agreement reached between the sanctuary's former owner, Dan MacKenzie, and the mortgage company that forced him to leave the property earlier this week.

After MacKenzie's hasty departure from Bonniedale -- he told the Providence Journal that he'd been given only 10 minutes to vacate on Monday morning -- things quickly went from bad to worse for the animals.  According to Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA) President Dr. Ernest Finocchio, he found horses and pigs without water during a visit to the farm Tuesday.  More troubling still, animals like llamas and pot-bellied pigs seemed to be going missing, and it was unclear whether they'd been removed by concerned animal lovers or simply stolen.

MacKenzie's concern for the animals' welfare prompted him to seek a court order to ensure they'd be cared for in his absence.  A preliminary agreement, in which Finocchio would assume the responsibility for their care for a 24-hour period, was reached Wednesday.

Representatives from both sides of the foreclosure were back in court today, resulting in an agreement that the Bonniedale animals will remain under the care of the RISPCA over the next few days, according to the Journal.  After that, the RISPCA hopes to find new adoptive homes for the animals, which number more than 130 and include many rescued from abusive or neglectful owners.  

Although MacKenzie had named Wells Fargo as the company that forced his eviction, Wells Fargo spokesman Gabriel Boehmer was quick to point out in an e-mail to Unleashed on Wednesday that the company is "not the owner, mortgage servicer or mortgage originator of the Bonniedale Farms property (rather a trustee for a trust that includes the property's mortgage)."  Rather, the foreclosure was initiated by a separate company, American Home Mortgage Servicing; Wells Fargo had been unaware that the former company planned to evict MacKenzie until it took that action Monday.

"Of course you empathize [with MacKenzie]," Boehmer said by phone today.  The company plans to take measures to ensure that the animals are well-cared-for until new homes can be found for them.  Meanwhile, a "Bonniedale Farm Fund" has been set up through the RISPCA; donations from the public will be used to care for the animals while they're in the organization's care.

Wells Fargo is accused of animal neglect following foreclosure of Rhode Island farm sanctuary

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: WPRI via YouTube

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