Horse Cruelty

By: Bobeth Yates Email
By: Bobeth Yates Email

A rescue operation to save more than two dozen neglected horses continued today in Jackson County.

Last night at 10 we first reported how sheriff's officials arrested the horses' owner after securing his permission to remove the animals from his land near Altha.

Flahorse.com official Tim Trott says most of the animals are now receiving special care.

"I have never seen a horse this bad that's still alive, so she’s amazing."

This mare is the worst of the 28 horses being rescued by Bay County Animal Rescue officials and members of a non-profit group called Florida Horse Rescue. The organization's president, Melanie Higdon, says animals are rebounding well.

"You can't tell it by looking at her, but she has gained weight."

A horse her size should weigh about 1,000 pounds, but Trott says one off the horses has totally missed that mark.

"I worked with a thoroughbred one time that was about four hundred pounds off, and that horse looked great compared to this one."

Jackson County sheriff's investigators arrested the horse owner, Tommy James, Monday, charging him with animal cruelty.

Experts say cases like this are a symptom of present conditions.

Higdon says due to economic times more people will begin to cut back on the food they're giving to their animals, but the problem with that is they may put them out on a pasture but that food won’t be enough to keep them healthy.

"There just simply isn't enough nutrient in the Florida's soil to make its way into the grass in order to provide what they need."

Horses also need hay, sweet feed, water, salt blocks, and Higdon says that's only the beginning.

"All the different parts of their body need different things other than what's in grass or hay."

And five of these horses will need even more special care. They're pregnant.

"Just like women, female horses need prenatal care and they need adequate nutrition, more than just the grass that they were getting so we're a little concerned," Higdon.

Despite their initial condition, officials say the animals are rebounding well, and all 28 are headed to foster homes.

Rescuers say four of the stallions were too wild to capture, so they're being fed at James' property. Besides the cruelty charge, James is also facing a count of violation of probation for a previous drug case. He's being held in the Jackson County correctional facility.


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