Published On: Fri, Mar 7th, 2014

Horse abuse/starvation case in Renick

Dear Editor:

I should have called a month or two ago when I started noticing the horse losing weight. The horse, pastured in the Renick area, has had this lump (the size of a basketball now, it has gotten progressively larger) on the right side ofhis jaw since November. I started noticing him losing weight around the middle of December. He is a black horse with a star on his forehead (draft horse cross). I know he is at least 300 pounds underweight, possibly more. I drive by him 5 days a week, sometimes 7.

The breaking point for me was when during our big snowstorm I drove by and saw him pawing the ground for food, there was none out there. Sometimes there was a round bale of hay, sometimes not (or at least it was not visible). Even if there was food, with his jaw/mouth I do not think he could chew the hay. He starved to death, slowly. Can you imagine having food in front of you, but having your mouth so painful, not being able to eat? Starving to death? That is what this horse went through. I contacted animal control in Greenbrier County, WV on 2/25/14, they said they would send someone out to check it.

On 2/26/14, the horse was still in the pasture, standing there, looking depressed (you could see his hip bones, ribs, and his back bone stuck up about 3 inches, even with his winter coat). I assumed nothing had been done. In the morning, I drove by and noticed him by the barn, not moving, flat out, with his mouth open. I never got a call back from animal control. I contacted animal control again on 2/27/14 and had to leave a message. When the officer called back around 9 a.m., he told me that they had investigated it, the horse was under a veterinarian’s care (it had a salivary gland rupture, fairly common in large animals) and was being given antibiotics, etc. He said not to worry my pretty little head off, everything was fine. I then asked him to explain to my why during this time, if in case that horse was under a vet’s care why the horse had lost so much weight and how was that fair to the animal. I also asked him, if it was no big deal, why in fact the horse was dead this morning by the barn. He then stated that he may have to go out and check this out. I do not believe that anyone from animal control ever investigated this, I could be wrong, but it was my impression that he was trying his best to pacify me, it didn’t. I was flabbergasted.

Those people are there to be advocates for animals. They do not have voices, it is our jobs as their caregivers to be their voice.

Also, there is also another horse in the field (he is a bay draft horse cross), he looks to be in okay order and there is now a round bale in the field, but the water is frozen over and being supplied by the roof of the barn dripping in it (horses need to have unfrozen water during the winter to prevent colicking, they like it around 40 degrees F).

I don’t know if you have ever seen anything that has been starved, and if you haven’t I hope you never do, it is sickening. It is one of the worst ways to go. Their body literally eats itself to survive. We have rescued horses before, and I have never seen anything as bad as this horse. Someone needs to be his voice, his advocate. Whether or not he had a salivary gland rupture or something else, there was absolutely no reason for him to look and die the way he did. Please be his voice.

Numerous attempts to contact the county commission about this issue were made with no response from anyone. I have worked at a vet’s office for almost five years now. I have horses of my own, 45 of them. I have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and natural resources from Berea College, one of the top private liberal arts colleges in the South. I am 26 years old. I only want what is right for the animal, and I do not feel like that was done.

Thank you for your time.

Tiffany Hudson