Four thoroughbred horses, three of them bearing tattoos that indicate they are apparently former racehorses, are now in the care of Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon, Vermont. The animals were severely malnourished; neglected by their owner elsewhere in Rutland County, the non-profit alleged.
“When it comes to the point where they let their animals get like this, it's infuriating, to say the least,” said Gina Brown of Spring Hill Horse Rescue.
Brown said Spring Hill had been working with the owner for a few months, offering hay and other resources like blankets, but when conditions didn't get better, the owner handed over the animals last week.
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One of the horses in particular, Bailey, was quite emaciated, Brown said. Other problems with the animals included skin infections, parasites, and old injuries that went untreated. Since arriving at Spring Hill, the horses have been on a careful feeding program, Brown told New England Cable News.
Bailey was found without a blanket on during the organization’s last visit to his home, Brown noted.
“All those nights that it was 20 below zero, he was outside like this with no food,” she added. “I was really shocked to see the thinnest one here survived this.”
In September, NECN reported on a course in Tinmouth, Vermont, where volunteer humane agents were training on how to investigate complaints of animal cruelty.
“We're their voice,” participant Peggy Murray said on September 24. “There's a lot of animals out there that need our help.”
At the time, humane agents said calls for help were up, due in large part to more options for anonymous reporting. Those include the website Report Animal Cruelty, which allows Vermonters to express concerns about animals in their communities they feel may not be well-cared for.
Of the 8-9,000 reports of animal cruelty in Vermont each year, humane agents at the Tinmouth training and this week at Spring Hill Horse Rescue said most are minor or fixable, and that only a few result in court action.
Spring Hill said the situation involving the thoroughbreds would fall into the category of the 1 percent of reports deemed very serious.
Scott Waterman, the public information officer for the Vermont State Police, said the agency has been involved in the case of the four thoroughbreds so far in what amounts to a support role.
But with Spring Hill Horse Rescue planning to forward findings of veterinary exams, Waterman said it is possible that Vermont State Police investigators could become more involved. Criminal charges are also possible, depending on the findings of those vet exams, Waterman indicated.
The animals are slowly making progress, Brown said, and appear to have put on a little bit of weight due to water consumption and access to more hay. She said eventually, they will be available for adoption. “They all look a little bit better,” Brown said.
Click here to visit the website of Spring Hill Horse Rescue.