By Bill Shields

Warning: Video contains graphic images

WESTPORT (CBS) – Dozens of people are being held responsible for the largest animal cruelty case in New England. Last summer, animal rescue teams seized more than 1400 animals including cats, dogs, horses and goats from a Westport farm.

Seven of the 26 the defendants appeared in court Tuesday and said “not guilty” after being charged with animal cruelty.

westportanimalcruelty2 Dozens Charged With Animal Abuse At Westport Farm

Cats rescued from Westport farm (WBZ-TV)

“I struggle every day to make sense of what’s happened here, and the fact that it’s happened again, this already happened in 2010 and we’re doing it again,” said Westport resident Jodi Greenleaf.

The farm owner, Richard Medeiros, had leased small parcels to people with animals and police say those tenants neglected them.

westportanimalcruelty Dozens Charged With Animal Abuse At Westport Farm

Dog rescued from Westport farm (WBZ-TV)

Medeiros was arrested for the same thing six years ago.

The animals have been removed and 26 tenants have been charged with animal abuse. But many in Westport say the government is also at fault.

Anna Chaletzky of the Animal Rescue League says she had never seen animals in such poor condition. “It was really sad seeing them and they seemed sad,” Chaletzky said.

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