MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A case of alleged animal abuse has neighbors in one community appalled, but the accused are equally appalled by the accusation.
One family says they had a horse stolen, but they say what bothers them most is what they discovered after it was taken.
Mike Nichols' family went on vacation a few weeks ago. He says when they came back to their home in the Dingess area of Mingo County, one of their horses was missing.
"They came through two gates and took it out of my lot and rode it out of here to their house," Nichols said.
Neighbors say they saw a teenage girl riding it.
The Nichols family later found that horse on a nearby hill and took photos of it, along with other horses they say had been spray painted with the girl’s initials.
Nichols says the horses hadn’t been given water, had bad whip marks, and one of the horses had been ridden with a saddle without padding to the point that its bone was exposed.
He also says witnesses have seen people racing one of the horses against an ATV in extreme heat.
Nichols says they've tried talking with the girls' family, but they won't listen.
However, the girl’s family has a very different story.
The girl’s mother, who didn’t want her name used, told WSAZ.com no one from the Nichols family has ever talked with them about the problem.
“Not one person has ever come to us and told us anything about what's supposed to be going on because it's all lies,” she said. “We've got animals. They're well taken care of.”
She says her daughter took the horse because Nichols’ father-in-law traded horses with her.
Nichols says it may have been a miscommunication where she took the wrong horse, but he says that doesn’t excuse the horse’s mistreatment, but the girl’s mother says her daughter has not mistreated any animal.
“That is all lies,” she said. “Her horses are in the barn well taken care of. She doesn't race her horses with ATV's.”
The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department confirmed they are investigating this case.
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