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Columbia County grand jury hands up no indictment in animal neglect case

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    The owner of a Clermont horse sanctuary, whom police had said allowed her animals to roam free and without water, was exonerated by a grand jury on Tuesday.
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    Andrea Nussinow, owner of Blue Star Farms, a horse sanctuary, was exonerated of animal neglect charges by a grand jury in Columbia County Court on Tuesday.
December 21, 2017 11:30 pm

HUDSON — A Columbia County grand jury decided not to indict a woman who was accused of depriving her horses of water.

A grand jury received the case Dec. 12 and ruled there was not enough evidence to convict Andrea Nussinow, who was charged with 11 counts of failure to provide proper sustenance to animals under the state Agriculture and Markets Law.

The grand jury’s findings were conveyed to the attorneys in the case Tuesday.

State police arrested Nussinow, 55, of Clermont, at her horse rescue farm July 4.

Police accused Nussinow, the owner and operator of the horse sanctuary Blue Star Farms at 84 Nevis Road, Tivoli, of failing to provide water to several animals on her farm.

The mailing address of the farm is Tivoli, but the farm is located in Clermont in Columbia County.

Michael Pollok, Nussinow’s attorney, said the allegations and arrest perpetrated by the Columbia-Greene SPCA and state police “false.”

“The grand jury found that my client did not neglect the animals, which she had recently rescued from a ‘kill pen’ and refused to indict her on any charges,” Pollok said in an email Wednesday.

The investigation began June 28 when a state trooper checked the area and noticed horses that appeared “too lean,” former state police spokeswoman Melissa McMorris said in July. “She [the trooper] immediately contacted the Columbia-Greene Humane Society and coordinated a follow-up.”

“Several horses evaluated by a veterinarian were determined to be emaciated and in poor health,” state police said in a statement July 5.

The animals have repeatedly been found outside the farm, McMorris said.

“We have been patrolling the area because the steer have escaped and could create a potential traffic hazard,” McMorris said. “We have been to the farm on several occasions for animals leaving the farm and wandering onto neighbor’s property.”

The Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA assisted state police with the investigation. The SPCA monitored the animals during the court proceedings.

“The SPCA and police came to my client’s farm on the July 4 holiday knowing that her staff would be off that day and then took her away in handcuffs based on false allegations, ironically leaving the animals unattended for hours in 90-degree heat with no water or food because no one was present to care for the animals since they physically arrested my client rather than simply giving her a ticket directing her to appear in court,” Pollok said.

Nussinow was exonerated after she and five witnesses, including two veterinarians, testified on her behalf for the grand jury, Pollok said.

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.

I have known Andrea Nussinow for over 35 years. I know of no person more dedicated to the health, safety and welfare of animals. It is my understanding that the allegations that led to her arrest were made by someone who knew that the animals in question had been recently rescued from a kill pen and were already in ill health, and deliberately misled the authorities with complaints of abuse.
"Not even minimal probable cause to arrest" Local veterinarians testified on her behalf.
Apparently Nussinow had just rescued some horses from a kill pen- police were responding to a complaint of emaciated horses on the property- ironically it turns out that she was attempting to save the animals she was accused of abusing...