Prosecutor, investigator visit horse farm

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Members of the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office spent Tuesday visiting a local horse farm with Animal Control after receiving numerous complaints about an emaciated mare that has gained attention on social media.

Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips “Phil” Ferguson said Tuesday afternoon that an investigator and an assistant commonwealth’s attorney from his office spent the day at Aston Farms in the rural southwest part of the city.

“We’ve obviously had numerous complaints from different people about what went on out there,” Ferguson said. “(They) put on their boots and clogged through the pastures and looked at everything out there we could find animal-wise.”

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Photos of the gray Arabian mare named Lalique were posted on social media Thursday evening and went viral. The horse’s shoulder blades, ribs, spine and pelvis are all clearly visible in the photos, and many people are calling for action.

City spokeswoman Diana Klink stated that Animal Control has been consistently involved. The horse’s veterinarian, Dr. John Sangenario of Dominion Equine Clinic, has diagnosed her with pleuritis and is also running other tests. The state veterinarian has declined to come to Suffolk to provide a second opinion, Klink stated.

Klink identified the horse’s owner as William Shelton, who had previously said he was only a friend. A record on, however, lists the owner as Janet G. Aston. It also says Lalique was born on June 5, 2001, making her 18 years old, not in her 20s as Shelton had previously said.

Ferguson said Aston has been very cooperative while his staff looks into the matter.

“We have not finished everything we’re doing yet, but we did quite a bit today,” he said. His staff looked at all of the horses on the property — approximately 62 of them — including Lalique, Ferguson said. They took pictures and gathered information, including records on Lalique.

“We’ve reached no conclusions yet,” Ferguson said. “We want to gather all the facts first, because that’s how we do business.

“Facts are what’s important,” Ferguson continued. “Not emotion, but facts. It’s unfortunate the one horse does have issues. We’ve got multiple questions and issues on that horse. I think we’re making significant progress very quickly.”

At some point late Monday or early Tuesday, Dominion Equine either removed its Facebook page or changed the privacy settings on the page after receiving numerous negative reviews and comments from concerned citizens.

The Suffolk News-Herald visited Dominion Equine’s site on Lake Cohoon Road Tuesday afternoon hoping to speak with the veterinarian, but a worker said he was out in the field. He did not return a message seeking comment.