Horse rescue agency gets unusual call
Thoroughbreds need homes, along with cats and dogs
Published: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 4:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 at 4:34 p.m.
The owner of McKillian Farms in Flemington apparently left the country this week, leaving behind 40 thoroughbred horses and more than two dozen dogs and cats on the 30-acre farm.
Susie Blommaerts told a neighbor she was leaving for Belgium. Before she left, however, she gathered the horses' papers and signed blank bills of sale for the ones she owned. The person who was left in charge of the farm called the Horse Protection Association of Florida on Friday seeking help.
Most of the horses belong to clients who boarded the animals at the farm, but the association says between 10 and 15 horses - mostly thoroughbred broodmares - will need adoption, said Morgan Silver, executive director of the association, which is headquartered near Micanopy, near the Marion and Alachua county line.
"There was no abandonment because she left the animals in someone's care. There is no cruelty because the animals are in good shape. She left the situation better than most of the cases we get. She left some food and they are all fat and well cared for. Their feet need some work, but it's nothing serious," Silver said.
Also on the farm were about 20 cats and six dogs.
The owners of the boarded horses were contacted and they have started picking up their animals, said Kim Heath, the president of the HPAF's board of directors.
"The farm was sold, but the closing was not completed yet," said Heath, who added that the buyer of the farm may keep some of Blommaerts horses.
"Right now we're going to try to care and feed all the animal here at the farm while they are adopted out. There is some food, but we are going to need more, and any donations we can get would go a long way. We are really stretched beyond our means," she said.
It wasn't immediately clear why Blommaerts left the country.
Marion County property records show that Blommaerts bought the property in September 2000 for $110,400. A year later she sold it to Jean Paul Danis for $50,000. Then in August 2009, she bought it back from Danis, again for $50,000.
It was not known if any of the broodmares owned by Blommaerts were pregnant, but there was a yearling among the horses.
"Most of them are older broodmares for racing stock," said Heath.
Silver said the number of horses being turned over or abandoned has increased this year as the economy continues to struggle.
"Nothing surprises me anymore. We get calls every day from people that are trying to get rid of their horses," she said.
The association is currently caring for about 100 horses, 25 of which are in temporary foster care on other farms because there is no more room on the association's farm. Typically, the HPAF averages about 60 horses for adoption.
Once the horses are sorted, their information and photos will be added to the association's adoption rolls which can be seen at their website at www.hpaf.org.
To complicate matters, the association now has to care for the cats and dogs.
"Most shelters are not accepting adult cats. We're kind of out of our league with the cats and dogs," Silver said.
The cats had basically taken over the house on the property. Besides full litter boxes, however, the animals were in good shape as well.
"We changed the litter boxes and it made a big difference right away," Silver said. "Some have some respiratory stuff, but it's not serious. There are a few that are feral but probably 16 or so are really beautiful cats."
The dogs are older animals, including two border collies, a golden retriever mix and a German shepherd mix.
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