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June 20, 2016

Adopted horse Lily passes away at Jon Stewart's N.J. animal sanctuary

Elderly Arabian mix was discovered in March with apparent paintball bruises at Pa. auction farm

One of the year's most uplifting turnaround stories came to an untimely end on Sunday with the death of Lily the horse, an elderly Arabian mix adopted by comedian Jon Stewart after she was apparently pelted with paintballs and abandoned at a Pennsylvania auction farm. 

The announcement of Lily's death was made Monday by The Daily Squeal, a Facebook page for the Middletown, N.J. sanctuary owned by Stewart and his wife Tracey.

Lily's story first provoked outrage in March when she was found abandoned at the New Holland Sales Stable with bruises seemingly caused by more than 100 paintball pellets. She was discovered Kelly Smith, director of Airville-based Omega Horse & Rehabilitation Center, and later sent to Penn Vet's New Bolton Center in Kennet Square to undergo surgery.

Authorities later charged Phillip S. Price, 65, of Rhode Island, with animal cruelty, dealing and handling animals without a license and importing animals without an interstate health certificate. He had transported Lily to the New Holland Sales Stable from Smoke Hollow Farm in Pittstown, New Jersey. Price was convicted on all charges in May and was ordered to pay $3,056 in fines and $10,178 in restitution.

Stewart purchased the Middletown farm last August after retiring from his 16-year run as host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. Tracey Stewart has published an etiquette guide "Do Unto Animals" and is a vocal advocate for animal welfare.

Doreen Weston, the owner of Smoke Hollow Farm, has since disputed the initial Lancaster County SPCA report that Lily was shot with paintballs. Weston provided the Associated Press with photo evidence to support her claim that Lily happily took part in a childrens' fingerpainting session before Price took her to New Holland, where horses are typically sent to be slaughtered. 

The Lancaster County SPCA in turn questioned Weston's credibility, adding that Lily was found malnourished and in need of emergency surgery to remove her right eye.

While it may have been a brief recuperation for Lily in Middletown, she appears to have relished her last days under the Stewarts' care.