Finger Lakes Is Complicit in Wayne County Cruelty Case

From Wayne County, NY comes word of an animal cruelty seizure involving, among others, 16 horses in various debased conditions. Wayne County Investigator Tom Littlefield (WHAM): “Faced with that [bad hay and moldy corn] the horses have nothing left to eat but trees, the bark off of trees and fence posts and things like that. They’re really in bad shape, the lucky ones are just the emaciated ones they have others with serious, serious injuries.” The alleged abuser, Cindy Denninger of Sodus, is a licensed Thoroughbred owner who has stabled horses at Finger Lakes Racetrack; reportedly, most of the victims were Finger Lakes castoffs.

First, in the abstract: We cannot protect horses from being tortured to death (yes, there were two dead horses found on Denninger’s property) when anyone can acquire horses, and when there exists no serious deterrent to torturing them. Anyone can acquire horses because horses are things to acquire, and there is no serious deterrent because serious deterrents are reserved for violations of others’ rights. Horses are not “others”; they have no rights. Vicious circle defined.

Worse, horses are chattel of the lowest order, manufactured, traded, used, and trashed purely on a human’s whim. There are no agencies regulating their titles and no safety nets monitoring their care. And if found abused, the victims of cruelty as defined by the law, there are no prosecutorial crusades initiated on their behalf and no sentencing messages from the bench. There is no justice, not even a pretense to justice, because there is no will within society – not at the legislative level, not at the enforcement level, not at the judicial level, and most importantly, not at the people level – to (seriously) punish property owners for committing wrongs against their property.

(One of Denninger’s neighbors writes (WHAM): “I am her neighbor and YES everyone complained every year for years to do something for these poor animals… They came and did NOTHING!!!” And a former neighbor: “I used to live right around the corner 10 years ago. The cops were called quite often way back then about the condition of the animals she had. It was horrible then.”)

On the present case, Paul Ubbink of the Ubbink racing-family vehemently defends both his track (FL) and his industry. While he concedes that there are “bad apple” trainers/owners delivering their “retired” into wicked hands, it is grossly unfair to paint all with the same brush. From the WHAM story: “It’s uninformed filth that spills from people’s mouths that makes the racing industry look bad. Just like every business in the world there are of course going to be bad people, not everyone in the racing industry is bad.” (For proof, he says, come visit Team Ubbink’s happy stock.) For its part, Finger Lakes is “horrified” and promises cooperation.

photo credit: Times of Wayne County
photo credit: Times of Wayne County

But here’s the problem: Ms. Denninger’s vile ways couldn’t have been a secret around the track. Ubbink: “Trust me, she is perfectly fine and this has been going on for a long time.” But only now, with a red-hot spotlight, is there talk of action: Robert Ubbink: “And as far as the racetrack having responsibility in this—they don’t. But you better believe they will never let her on the grounds again. Or ever allow her to ship one through the stable gate.” What I hear is that Finger Lakes could have intervened a long time ago, but did not. And the “good horsemen” could have applied some pressure toward that end, but did not. In my book, that makes them complicit. A “few bad apples”? Folks, the entire orchard is rotten.

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  1. Somethings I just can’t believe. This is so bad I don’t even know what to say.

  2. I agree, David Juffet. The racing industry continues to turn a blind eye to the atrocities that occur on a daily basis. Again, what horrifies me the most is that there is a “culture” of ignoring the atoricities. Most just look the other way until they are caught with their “pants down”.

    As everyone knows, Beulah Park is closing Derby Day. How many horses have been taken off that track and have disappeared? How many, racing apologists? Oh, and I don’t ever want to hear again the proverbial “story” that the horse found a good home with the nice gentleman down the street and around the corner. There are more 4H kids here in central Ohio than there are in the entire country. Do you want to find a horse that onced raced at a low level track here in Ohio? Just check the county fairs where the 4H kids show their animals. All the horses that have disappeared are happily being groomed by little kids. Whoever believes that story will believe that the earth is flat.

  3. Yes, Mary you are right. People who believe these fairytales just don’t want to face the truth, for the most part, and maybe some are just naïve and, of course, too many just don’t care. How on earth was this person allowed to get away with such unspeakable cruelty. Shame on everyone who stood by and did nothing. She must be mentally ill or just plain evil.
    The sad part is that she will in no way be the recipient of any meaningful retribution. Those who did nothing when they knew what was going on are complicit in this outrage.
    Also, of course, the pro slaughter groups will be glad to showcase this type of atrocity to support their position. But anyone with common sense knows slaughter does not prevent such situations and is an atrocity in itself.

  4. I’ve no words….except a CHILD knows that living things need food and water.
    Shame on this woman, the racing industry, and everyone who knew of this horrific suffering and turned away. My dear God…what evil abounds.

  5. Spin Spin Spin. Yes at one time she had an owners license but haven’t other people in here been licensed at a track? Does everything you do go back to that license? This person was “SAVING” horses. She wanted to “Rescue” them from the awful life of the race track. This person saw the light, she turned over a new leaf, she drank the Kool-aid of the race track haters. She is out of the racing game. She is going to be a rescue now. So would you categorize her as “Race track person” or “Ex race track person who wants to save horses”? After reading some of the posts on here I already know your answer. Why does the article the Battuello guy wrote have different tones then all the others? His own article states that the neighbors complained to the authorities and they did nothing. “The cops were called”. Does the race track supersede the police? Do you know the Race Track or race track people did not call as well? Should the race tracks spy on their trainers and owners? If they did would this site bad mouth them for spying? How many people have had an owners license at Finger Lakes?I would think they need to go inspect everyone of their homes. You guys are supposed to be the “Animal Rights Activists” ,why did you let this happen?

  6. Where did the horses in her possession come from ? People at the track must have known what was going on. Was she getting horses from the track ? No response from the police means an other avenue has to be pursued.
    And instead of labeling people “animal rights activists” and asking “why did you let this happen” did you ask yourself what you did to stop it .

  7. Ms.Smith after the “Proper” authorities are called in and do nothing, what would you have people do? Do you grab pitch forks, light torches and storm the place with a posse of vigilantes? Did not know I was unfairly labeling anyone. I thought most in here were activists for animal rights.

  8. Mr. Oviedo, I am against cruelty perpetrated by humans against humans and animals. When “proper” authorities do not respond there many other ways of raising public consciousness. As the saying goes, where there is a will there is a way. I have spoken before county and city councils and written letters, etc. in some cases. Of course I and others do not condone the “pitchfork” method.
    I find labels to be tiresome, at best. All too often labels, such as animal rights advocates and animal rights radicals, are used to denigrate those who are against animal cruelty and raise their voices accordingly. Cruelty is not necessary and says nothing good about humanity. Further, to ignore cruelty is to condone it.

    PS A good question to ask regarding “rights” is : Do we as humans have the “right” to be cruel?

    • Ms. Smith I truly meant no offense with any of my comments or labels. In this case the proper authorities did respond, they did not take action. Unless you are in the loop you have no way of knowing what is being done. Also most or all of the goings on at that farm are not in plain site. So not that people are ignoring per-say as much as they are ignorant of the abuse. I am sure you know better then I do that in some states it is not easy to prove abuse or neglect. So if someone puts their neck out and claims abuse and it is not proven they can be sued for slander. I have seen where all people had to do is prove they had food, water, and shelter. They did not have prove they offered it to the horses, just that they had it available. (that was WV near Mountaineer Park)
      I still do not believe Finger Lakes should be labeled a villain in this post.

      • While some of your points are well-taken, Finger Lakes, indeed all of racing, must be held accountable for where their “retired” end up – looking the other way or shrugging one’s shoulders are unacceptable responses. Racing creates them and earns off of them; racing, ultimately, is responsible.

  9. Mr.Oviedo, no offence taken. However, most of the time when labels are used it is not done so benignly. I do, however, believe if this person was getting horses from Finger Lakes someone there must have known what was going on. And just like many other tracks Finger Lakes is not sterling when it comes to the welfare of the horse. Racing cards must be filled and that is the primary focus.

  10. Mr. Oviedo, there are “dirty secrets” throughout racing and one of those “dirty secrets” is that horses disappear all the time and are never heard from again. Does this happen at Finger Lakes? Sure, it does. An example is Cat’s Playmate. I spoke to Mr. Robert Webster, an investigator, several months ago, and he thinks she was taken off the track under a different name. I suspect she was sent to slaughter. The story was all over social media for several weeks, but has now been forgotten. Yes, Cat’s Playmate is now forgotten just like thousands of other TB’s that are no longer profitable….forgotten once the money stops rolling in.

  11. Mr.Oviedo and all those in the business never answer questions concerning the disappearance of horses. Also, they ignore facts when responding to posts and just address what they choose to. In fact, the defenders of this so called sport are a huge waste of time…

  12. As a life long Atheist I never thought I would utter this phrase, ” I am with Jesus”. Sorry had to say that.
    How many times have I heard in here that trainers will not give their horses to us or they won’t send them to rescues. Now it is, why do they give their horses to her. Did they give her the pig, turkeys, chipmunks, armadillo’s or whatever else she hoarded?? No. She is a collector, she collected.. Why isn’t anyone worried about were the paint horse came from???

    Just another rescue gone wrong…

    • AC, it is not clear to me that she is simply a hoarder. Regardless, Finger Lakes and the providing trainers/owners do bear responsibility for where and how their horses land.

  13. Patrick I am not in total disagreement with you. She may not be the text book hoarder, but she certainly can fall under the “Crazy Cat Lady” category.
    It has come to my attention that Finger Lakes offers assistance to trainers that have unwanted horses. I don’t know everything on that, so I will not elaborate. If that is so I do not see where the track can hold any blame. On the other hand I can see where people are questioning why horses go to her rather then taking the assistance from the track.

    What a lot of people don’t understand is that if you are a hoarder or the crazy cat lady legally the race tracks can not discriminate against you. They can not stop you from getting a license for being an idiot or ass hole. So when they claim they will never let her on the grounds again it is a promise I am not sure they can keep. In my experiences with people or rescues that have abused their horses few have been convicted and even fewer serve time. I can not speak for NY but other states seem to have a forgive and forget policy. I am not happy about this but I do not see her serving much time if any. So if there is no FELONY conviction there may be no legal reason for keeping her off the track.

  14. Mr.Battuello, Do you not earn off of them and other abused animals? I am asking because I do not know. Do you pull a pay check from the Times Union for writing about all the animals? Is this a stepping stone to bigger and better things? Do you go out and give hands on help to these animals? Are you getting dirt on your hands or just carpal tunnel?

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