CLINTON — The owners of a controversial horse farm have been charged with animal cruelty, the district attorney’s office said Tuesday.

Brett Ingraham, 34, owner of the Fair Play Farm on Tardiff Road, faces seven counts of animal cruelty, according to Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle.

Ingraham was arrested by police in Burnham on Sunday, Fowle said. He was taken to the Waldo County Jail in Belfast and released Monday after posting $1,000 bail, according to a jail spokesman, and is scheduled to appear in Waterville District Court Nov. 2.

His wife, 25-year-old Alexis Ingraham, was not arrested because she is pregnant, but was also charged with the same seven counts of animal cruelty, Fowle said. She is expected in court Nov. 2 as well, Fowle said.

The charges come more than two months after state animal welfare agents seized 15 horses and other animals from the farm as the Ingrahams watched.

The complaint against the Ingrahams states that horses were “deprived of necessary sustenance, necessary medical attention, proper shelter or humanely clean conditions,” Fowle said.

“Our main focus in these matters is to make sure the animals are protected and the people charged with these crimes are held accountable,” Fowle said. “We’re not claiming they were deliberately, physically cruel to these animals in terms that they abused them or anything like that. But there was a great deal of concern expressed early on, and we felt it was important to conduct a detailed investigation over a period of many months.”

The allegations of animal cruelty surfaced earlier this winter and officials with the state Animal Welfare Program spent several months investigating and visiting the farm.

Brett and Alexis Ingraham have said that they take in injured or malnourished horses that otherwise would be euthanized — such as racetrack horses — and care for them properly at their farm. They have denied any wrongdoing and said their farm has been misunderstood.

The investigation that led to the seizures picked up steam after a complaint was filed by Meris Bickford, an attorney with the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, based in South Windham. Bickford says she filed a complaint after she visited the farm Feb. 3 to buy a horse for personal use.

The allegations were thrust into the public Feb. 11 when Maddy B. Gray of Brunswick posted a story and photos on her equine website NickerNews.net.

The morning of June 3, animal-welfare agents arrived at the farm with a search warrant and ultimately seized 15 horses, goats and pigs, and two dogs from the farm. Fowle said the first five animal-cruelty charges pertain to the horses and the remaining two charges relate to the goats, pigs and dogs.

Supervising the horse seizures on June 3 was Norma Worley, director of the state Animal Welfare Program, who said the action reflected “the accumulation of almost four months of investigation.” The seized horses would be placed in stables and cared for by the animal program, she said.

Fowle said Tuesday that the seized animals, which are at an undisclosed location, are doing well.

“The good news is we have continued to monitor these animals in the period since they were seized and, with proper care, they’re improving markedly,” Fowle said.

Under conditions of Brett Ingraham’s release, he’s not allowed to acquire any more farm animals, domestic animals or livestock and has to inform authorities where he is living so an inspection of the property can be conducted, Fowle said. Brett Ingraham is now living in Burnham, Fowle said.

Scott Monroe — 861-9253

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