12 Malnourished Horses

Four members of PEARL answered a request for assistance from the Anderson County Sheriff's Department with a possible case of horse neglect. Deputy Thompson called about 9:00 am and stated that he was at 117 Wells Circle in Townville where there were numerous horses that appeared to be malnourished. The horses were in barbed wire enclosures with no visible forage or feed. He also stated that one horse was down.

Our news report is here.

When we arrived we observed barbed wire enclosures to the right and to the left of the home containing several horses each. We immediately moved a stallion from the right-hand enclosure to an empty catch pen. The stallion was acting very aggressively to the other horses and the other horses had numerous superficial wounds from kicks and bites. There was also a 4-month-old filly in this enclosure that appeared to be severely underweight and lethargic.

In the back of the enclosure there was a black and white mare lying in 6 to 12 inches of mud and manure. The daughter said that the horse had been down since the previous night. No veterinarian had been called. We gave the other horses small amounts of hay to distract them while we attended to the down horse.

The owner was asked to get a veterinarian there immediately to assess the condition of the down mare. Dr. Beretta of Beretta Equine Veterinary Services in Lavonia, GA arrived about 40 minutes later with an assistant. Dr. Beretta examined the down mare and decided to attempt to help the mare stand up. For the next hour Dr. Beretta, members of PEARL, and the owner attempted to coax the horse into standing, without success. Dr. Beretta recommended and the owner agreed to euthanize the horse. Dr. Beretta instructed the owner to immediately transport the carcass to the University of Georgia for a necropsy to determine if the horse had rabies, west nile virus, equine encephalitis, or EPM. Dr. Beretta asked for contact information for all persons present in case rabies is found.

Dr. Beretta then assessed the condition of the remaining horses individually, instructing the owner on what to do to improve their conditions. All the horses were assessed at a body score of about 3 out of 9 on the Henneke Body Score chart. The stallion was the only horse that appeared to be of normal body weight. The owner was also instructed to house the filly and its mother separately from the rest of the horses.

Shortly after these pictures were taken it was reported that the filly died.

On Friday, August 24th, the Anderson County Sheriff's Department executed an emergency seizure order. Under supervision of the Sheriff's Department, members of PEARL and volunteers removed 11 horses from the property and transported them to secure locations.

Pictures of the horses can be found here.

Comparisons of these photographs with the ones taken on August 10th show that there were actually 13 horses on the property on August 10th.

On Monday, August 27th, an emergency hearing was held in front of Judge Whitman. The Judge awarded temporary custody of the 11 horses for 30 days to the Sheriff's Department and PEARL.

On Monday afternoon farrier Paul Harrison trimmed 8 of the 11 horses. Wednesday afternoon he returned to trim 2 more horses. He noted that most of the horses had shed their frogs, but they still had good blood supplies to the hooves. There was evidence of bruising to many of the hooves, probably from stepping on stumps and rocks. He believed that one of the mares had never been trimmed, and is returning to work with her after Labor Day.

Paul's daughter Mara commemorated the day with a drawing of her dad at work.

Wednesday, August 29th, was deworming day and some play time, too!