State officials strip Westport BOH workers of animal inspection duties

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WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has stripped two Westport Board of Health members of their ability to inspect animals, Eyewitness News has learned.

The announcement comes weeks after hundreds of animals were found living in squalid conditions at a 70-acre farm off of American Legion Highway. The farm was divided into separate lots that were sub-let.

Letters to both Karl Santos and John Colletti were signed by Director of Division of Animal Health Michael Cahill. In the letters obtained by Eyewitness News, Cahill says the two men “failed to properly perform the inspections.”

Colletti is the chairman of Westport’s Board of Health, Eyewitness News has learned, and Santos is a board member.

According to Cahill, sanitation issues were found on nearly all of the 20 lots on the Westport farm property. He said oil tanks and drums were found – and some were leaking and rusted.

In the letters to Santos and Colletti, Cahill wrote that a review of the inspection book showed four of the lots in question were inspected in January and were labeled as being “adequate.” That includes sanitation, cleanliness and water supply.

Last week, Santos told Eyewitness News he was the one who inspected the land in January.

“I saw no red flags,” he said.

The state wrote that “scores of dead animals in various states of decomposition” were found when police launched their investigation. In the letter, it says conditions did not get so bad after months, writing “this level of unsanitary conditions took years to accumulate.”

Eyewitness News spoke with Colletti outside of his home off camera on Thursday. He said he and Santos asked to be removed as inspectors.

In response, the state told Eyewitness News:

The Department of Agricultural Resources received no notices of resignation, and independently took action based on the inspectors’ failure to properly perform the duties.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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