WAYNE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A horse and several dogs are beginning a long road to recovery after Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter workers found them starving and emaciated on Wednesday.
Shelter workers say they got six or seven calls this week about a horse that appeared to be starving along Billys Branch Road in Genoa, W.Va. When they went to check it out on Wednesday, they found five dogs, three puppies and a horse, all severely malnourished.
“When we pulled up, she was laying on the ground,” Scott Iseli from the animal shelter said. “The feed bucket didn't have any feed in it, the hay that was there wasn’t to where she could get to it, and it was rotten. There was already grass growing through it.”
Iseli and shelter director Jim Cumm said the horse, which is 300 to 400 pounds underweight, was so weak that she kept lying down while they were there. When they put her in a trailer to take her back to the shelter, they said she fell down in the trailer.
“On a scale of one to five, it was probably a one – zero being close to death,” Cumm said. “Its spine was showing, its hip bones were showing, every rib you could count.”
With no food or hay near that horse, and no food or water for any of the dogs found on the property, shelter workers say the animals are facing a long road back to good health.
In many cases, “it's not purposeful animal cruelty, it's lack of the means to support the animal,” Cumm said. “I think a lot of people have good intentions, but they are uneducated to know what the animal needs.”
The property owner claimed responsibility only for the horse and not for any of the dogs. However, Cumm said that owner signed over custody of all the animals to the animal shelter.
Cumm said they also found a shallow grave on the property with a dead dog inside of it. He noted that sometimes people get animals like horses because they wanted them when they were children but could never have them.
“Folks are getting them, think they can tie them out like a dog and feed them what a regular canine, pet or something like that, [would eat],” Cumm said.
The animals were checked out by a veterinarian and taken to the shelter to be nursed back to health, which could take weeks or months. If necessary, Cumm said some could be euthanized.
On Thursday, the horse was checked out by Lucas Farms, a horse rescue group that will take her and nurse her back to health. The owner will face eight counts of animal cruelty and has five days to respond to the charges. The sentence would be five years of not being able to house or harbor animals.
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