Animal-welfare Activist Is Charged In Horse-care Case

Posted: January 04, 1987

For the second time in two months, a Burlington County animal-rights activist is facing charges stemming from his pursuit of animal-welfare cases.

John Dobran, who was convicted of horse theft Nov. 24 while pressing an animal-cruelty case in Southampton Township Municipal Court, faces two charges of animal cruelty and two charges of misrepresenting himself while he was at a Springfield Township farm.

At the same time, Dobran is pressing animal-cruelty charges against one of his accusers.

Dobran is medical adviser to the Save A Horse Foundation, a Burlington County animal-welfare organization. His fiancee, Laura Holler, the organization's president, also faces an animal-cruelty charge.

All the charges are to be heard tomorrow by Springfield Township Municipal Court Judge Harry J. Supple. Each animal-cruelty charge can mean a fine of up to $250.

The charges stem from incidents that occurred in late November. Dobran said he received a call from the state police about a horse that was running loose at a farm on Gilbert Road in Springfield.

He said he went to the farm and that the owner, Edward Schensky, signed a release saying he would turn custody of the chestnut mare over to Save A Horse.

"We have a piece of paper stating that Mr. Schensky signed that horse over to us," Dobran said.

Dobran said he put the horse in a pen on Schensky's farm for less than 12 hours while he arranged transportation for it.

Dobran's version is disputed by Schensky and Charles Gerofsky, who heads the New Jersey branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Schensky, a Riverside resident who owns the Springfield farm, filed two misrepresentation charges against Dobran.

In court papers, Schensky said that Dobran pretended he was a representative of the SPCA in order to defraud him of his horse.

Dobran denied that he said he was from the SPCA and filed two counter- charges against Schensky, saying he failed to provide proper food, water and shelter for the horse and failed to get a test to determine whether the horse had a contagious disease.

Schensky could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Mark Cunningham, denied any cruelty.

Gerofsky, meanwhile, also brought two other charges against Dobran.

The charges say that Dobran failed to provide proper shelter for the horse and that he put the animal in a 12-by-30-foot pen on Schensky's property.

Gerofsky also said that Dobran threatened Schensky with fines and forced him to sign the release.

Gerofsky also charged Holler with animal cruelty. Holler, he said, chased the horse with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

"It's a wonder the horse didn't have a very serious accident," said Gerofsky. "When you chase them with a vehicle, they get crazy."

Holler said her vehicle never got close enough to the horse to scare it. She said she was surprised she had been charged, since the foundation had been asked to handle the horse problem.

"The state police called us, and that's why we got our fingers in this pie," said Holler.

The horse is being boarded on a nearby farm.

Meanwhile, in Riverside Township, Dobran and animal control officer Henry Ring have filed more charges against Schensky. They say that Schensky did not provide enough food and water for his dog and improperly used farm-vehicle tags. That case is to be heard Jan. 13.

The charges and counter-charges by and against Schensky follow a similar case in Southampton involving Dobran.

In that case, Dobran bought animal-cruelty charges against an 83-year-old New York resident. Southampton Municipal Judge Dennis P. McInerney found that Al McGuckin had violated a civil statute when he offered a lame horse for sale.

But Dobran himself was convicted of theft charges after he took a horse

from McGuckin's farm in Southampton and sold it. Dobran maintained that McGuckin had given him the horse in exchange for work at the farm.

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