Most of the animals were found suffering from malnutrition, and many have open wounds, serious infections and skin issues according to the USERL. (Source: USERL)
54 various horse types ranging in age from just a couple weeks old to full grown, pregnant mares. (Source: USERL)
SAMPSON COUNTY, NC (WECT) -
Over 50 horses were found last month on a farm in Sampson County in deplorable living conditions. Many of those horses and other animals were seized July 1 by Animal Control deputies.
A month long investigation led Animal Control deputies to serve a search warrant at the farm located on Bob Rubert Lane in Dunn, NC around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Officials believed this could have been a case of animal hoarding.
Officials with Sampson County Animal Control originally contacted members of the Southeast Coast Region of the U.S. Equine Rescue League (USERL) to request their help in assessing the health of 54 various horse types ranging in age from just a couple weeks old to full grown, pregnant mares.
Animal Control deputies said their investigation was into animal cruelty alleging a large number of malnourished horses were being kept on less than five acres of land.
Debbie Walsh Bartholomew, chapter director, described the farm as "disgusting." Bartholomew said, "We have two-week old babies, pregnant mares, stallions, all mixed in together."
"Without these volunteers this operation could not have been successful," Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said. "The investigation is still ongoing and charges will be filed against the suspect for animal cruelty related charges."
Although all of the animals on the farm were seized, charges have not been filed for abuse and neglect according to the Sampson County Sheriff's Office.
In all 37 horses, nine ducks, five chickens, and nine guineas were seized as a result of the investigation according to the USERL spokesman Jefferson Weaver.
Most of the animals were found suffering from malnutrition, and many have open wounds, serious infections and skin issues according to the USERL.
Officials noted ponies, miniature horses, yearlings, and elderly horses were co-mingled in several enclosures and a barn on Bob Rupert Drive near Plain View, NC. Of the horses listed above, several were found pregnant and even more had wounds consistent with injuries sustained from fighting over food and "wounds not treated, lice, rain rot, winter coats still intact, and anything else you can imagine," Bartholomew said.
"If anyone would like to help, we need everything—fosters, adoptions (through or not through the rescue league), money, grain, hay." Volunteers are using social media to spread the word about the case through the groups Facebook page, USERL-SECR.
The USERL is a national, non-profit equine rescue organization. All donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of donations go to the care and rehabilitation of abandoned, abused, and neglected horses. The Southeast Coast Region serves all of Eastern North Carolina.
"This is one of the worst cases we've seen in North Carolina," Bartholomew explained. "It's a textbook example of why people need to have their stallions gelding. Horses are not like big dogs—you can't just turn them loose to graze and expect them to remain healthy."