FERA rescues horse found suffering rain rot and starvation

Published 11:43 am Monday, July 22, 2013

This picture shows the rain rot eating at the skin of the horse animal cruelty investigators and FERA rescued last week. (photo submitted)

This picture shows the rain rot eating at the skin of the horse animal cruelty investigators and FERA rescued last week. (photo submitted)

Polk County animal cruelty investigators and Foothills Equine Rescue and Assistance volunteers saved a mustang from neglect last week after being notified by a motorist that a horse was loose and looked malnourished.

Animal cruelty investigator Vard Henry said this horse rated a minus one on the scale from her opinion. The scale is a system animal cruelty investigators use to rate a horse’s condition. The animals are rated one to 10, with one being the poorest state, she said.

“This horse was at the bottom of the scale,” Henry said. “I had first thought she was not going to be strong enough to live another day.”

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When first checked on by investigators, the horse was suffering from rain rot, was emaciated and was staggering. The horse’s skin also contained several wounds from the rot, according to Henry.

A full view of the horse rescued by FERA. (photo submitted)

A full view of the horse rescued by FERA. (photo submitted)

Jackie Harris, a horse owner in the community, said she was shocked a horse could be in this state and no one report its condition sooner.

“This county is so active and so proactive about its horse industry … how this can happen and it not get reported, that is a bad thing,” Harris said. “This happens in plain site almost.”

According to Henry, horses are categorized as livestock under state animal cruelty laws. For livestock an owner only has to feed hay and give water to their horse, Henry said.

This owner had hay out for the horse, but the hay was very old and the water was rancid green, Henry said. The owner had also called the vet about the horse developing pneumonia, but Henry said it appeared they had not addressed the other issues.

“It’s easier somehow when you come across someone who is ignorant of how to take care of a horse,” Henry said. “The frustrating part of this part situation is that this woman is educated and has had horses before.”

Henry and Harris both acknowledged these cases often occur because an owner has fallen on hard economic times, but don’t know where to seek help or are too prideful to seek help.

“A lot of people that run out of resources and run out of money, no. 1 get very embarrassed and often don’t even realize there are resources out there,” Harris said. “Horses are an expense, this is not just a pet. People that get into something and find themselves in trouble should know there are ways to get help and they shouldn’t feel embarrassment if they need help.”

Henry said many in the community are also reluctant to report concerns because they are afraid the animal owner, often a neighbor, might find out who called.

The community needs to understand that they have a responsibility to report concerns, Henry said.

“Make a point to step up to the plate so these animals can be checked on,” Harris implored community members.

There are currently five animal cruelty investigators appointed by the county commission. To be considered for such a position, the individuals must take a state certified course, which teaches them about the scale of body weight, animal cruelty laws and how to proceed.

Henry said it is important for the community to know too that the Foothills Equine Rescue and Assistance (FERA) is available for more than strictly rescues. Henry said FERA assists with providing hay if needed, as well as providing information about feeding and proper care.
Donations from the public have recently allowed for a temporary shelter for horses to be built at Foothills Humane Society. The structure includes run out spaces and two stalls for horses to be housed until a foster home or a permanent home.

Henry said there is one pony rescued from a neglectful situation nine months ago that is currently ready for adoption.

If you do suspect a horse or any animal is suffering from abuse or neglect or if you are interested in fostering or adopting an animal, call the Foothills Humane Society at 863-4444. Names of those who report concerns will not be released.