Arraignments begin in Westport animal cruelty case

by MARIO HILARIO, NBC 10 NEWS

Authorities told NBC 10 News they discovered hundreds of animals in “awful” conditions at a 75-acre property off 465 American Legion Highway in Westport on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (Police photo)

Four defendants were arraigned Tuesday at Fall River Superior Court in connection to an animal cruelty case in Westport.

The four were tenant farmers at a farm property on American Legion Highway.

Joao DeAguiar, along with his son, Eddy DeAguiar, were both arraigned on 10 counts each of animal cruelty, one count for each species they’re accused of abusing.

Court documents show the pair had a turkey, pigeons, chickens, goats, pigs, rabbits, sheep, cattle, dogs and a Canadian goose on their lot.

Both were released on personal recognizance and agreed not to possess any animals while their cases are pending. Neither wanted to comment to NBC 10 after their court appearances.

A third defendant, Luis Pacheco, was arraigned on three counts of animal cruelty. He’s accused of abusing pigs, a dog and cattle.

Pacheco was also released on personal recognizance and agreed not to possess any animals. He also did not want to comment after court, but his attorney did.

“We deny that my client ever was abusive towards animals or didn’t care for them,” said Defense Attorney Kenneth Fredette. “They had multiple visits each day by family members, and each month by veterinarians.”

But town residents and animal advocates who showed up to court for the arraignments felt the charges against all the defendants were justified.

“The animals were in pain and suffering,” said Jodi Greenleaf, who started the group Protest Westport Tenant Farm. “People walked by them day in and day out.”

Others also shared disgust.

“We will not put up with this any longer in Westport,” said town resident Kathy Feininger, who started the group Stop the Insanity Westport.

Feininger is hoping this case will bring about needed change in how suspected cases…

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