BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Most animal abuse cases we hear about involve dogs or cats. But a greater number of horses than you may think are mistreated and malnourished. Fortunately, there is a group in North Carolina that can help nurse the animals back to good health, but they need your assistance.
Debbie Bartholomew grew up wanting a horse and never got one until later in life. These days, she spends a lot of time with, not only her animal, but horses that have been taken into the US Equine Rescue League. She is the league's southeast coast director and leads the team that investigates horse abuse and neglect cases.
The southeast league was one of the main groups that was called in by animal control officers when more than 50 horses and donkeys were seized from a Virginia farm a couple of years ago. The animals were malnourished.
Since the local non-profit, all volunteer group started three years ago, they have rescued over 100 horses, including Riley, whose previous owner could not take care of her any longer, due to a medical condition.
"Most of the people that I deal with don't go into this with the idea that I am going to starve or abuse my animals, they go into it thinking, 'Oh, isn't that great?' and they have always wanted a horse, and they are beautiful creatures, beautiful creatures, and they go into it thinking it is a great idea, and then they realize that once these horses are with them, that they require a lot of money and a lot of care, and they get themselves into a lot of trouble," explained Bartholomew. "And they are either too proud to ask for help, or just don't know where to ask for help, and they are afraid they are going to get into trouble."
Right now, the local rescue group has about 20 animals in various stages of recovery and rehabilitation. To do all of this takes money, and the league has no government assistance.
"But in the end, it is its own reward," said Bartholomew. "And every day, I go to bed and I worry and I cry and some nights I am just really happy with the way things turn out, so I figure the good outweighs the bad."
Saturday, the equine rescue league will hold their annual fundraiser at Honalee Stables, in Bolivia. The event is a chance for people to learn more about the rescue league and many of the horses the group is taking care of will be on display for possible adoption.
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