Rescued horses now up for adoption


Trish, an Appaloosa horse, feels her oats as she runs and bucks in a paddock Thursday afternoon, January 3, 2013, as Marion County Animal Services employee drop off bales of hay for the horses to eat. Marion County Animal Services is hoping people will adopt 12 horses rescued from three separate cruelty cases.

Doug Engle/Star-Banner
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.

Horses that once had been left to starve at a Dunnellon rescue facility are now ready for new homes.

Nine neglected horses taken by Marion County Animal Services from Guardian Angels Horse Rescue are up for adoption after more than three months of receiving the medical and nutritional attention they were denied at their former home.

The horses were as much as 300 pounds underweight, Animal Services reported. Their hooves and teeth were in neglect, and some had painful skin problems.

Of the 13 horses originally confiscated by Marion County, three had to be euthanized, making it one of the worst horse neglect cases in recent memory.

One of the 10 remaining horses has already been adopted, Marion County spokeswoman Elaine McClain said.

The nine remaining horses have been ridden in the past, McClain said. Three additional horses from other rescues are also up for adoption.

For a complete description of the animals, visit the Animal Services website at Marioncountyfl.org/animalservices.htm.

The next step is to make sure the horses that have already had a bad experiences aren't neglected again.

"Our officers go out to do a farm check before the horses arrive at the property," McClain said.

When evaluating a prospective home, Animal Service workers first evaluate how current livestock are faring there.

Then inspectors take stock of the property's facilities — barns, fences, other shelters — and availability of hay and feed.

Inspectors also make sure other animals living on the property are licensed.

Guardian Angels Horse Rescue is forbidden by the court to own, possess or care for horses. That was part of its agreement to give up the animals.

It cost the county $4,487.58 to care for the seized horses between September and early November, McClain said. Those are the most recent statistics available.

In September, when Animal Services took possession of the horses, Guardian Angels president Tabatha Quijano told the Star-Banner her organization owed about $32,000 and could not afford to provide the horses with some of the veterinary treatment they needed.

McClain said the number of horse and livestock neglect cases is on the rise, mostly likely because of the tough economic times.

In 2011, the county took 99 animals. During 2012, that increased to 115. McClain said those were the only two years for which the county had livestock data.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that the cost of owning a horse is more than the original investment," McClain said. "It's a large financial and time investment."

Contact Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@starbanner.com or 867-4157.

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