The storm created difficult conditions, but not as horrific as what animal rescue authorities discovered in a Tennessee barn today. “We were unprepared for what we found,” Horse Haven of Tennessee’s (HHT) Executive Director stated.
Yesterday a County Animal Control Officer answered a call of two horses at large, running loose in the area. Upon returning the horses to the barn Animal Control contacted HHT, a nonprofit rescue center for horses in neglect. After speaking with the animal’s owner and conducting an onsite inspection, AC had a search warrant drawn and it was served today. HHT partnered with Animal Control Officers to carry out the search warrant.
Nina Margetson, HHT Founder and Executive Director, described what was found upon entering the barn. “Arriving on the scene we found a large barn that was being used to house dozens of barking dogs. The feces stench from the dogs filled the air. At the far end of the barn we found three miniature horses living in a dark stall amongst years of piled up manure. Their feet were left unattended for so long they were curled and balled to the point of making it hard for them to stand, much less walk.” HHT removed the mini horses; they hope to rehabilitate them, if possible.
The owner surrendered the horses to avoid legal issues. However, he will be charged. Not all animals were removed, but a Notice to Comply was issued. “Right now there will be animal cruelty charges (due to) the mini's and some other animals that got removed,” explains Margetson. The owner kept changing the actual number of animals on the property and said he had “just gotten in over (my) head” regarding the animals.
HHT is 100% nonprofit. Educating people on the proper care of equines and rescuing abused “is a never ending battle,” says Margetson. It is difficult to prosecute in animal abuse cases due to ambiguous laws, financial issues, and restraints imposed by officials.
In Tennessee, “Cruelty to Animals” is a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction for cruelty to animals is a Class E felony. "Cruelty" includes, but is not limited to, “fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal in the person's custody.” (Source)
The three miniature horses confiscated by HHT were named "Wynken, Blynken & Nod." They will be cleaned, groomed as best possible, and evaluated to see if their feet can be saved. The owner may receive more charges.
UPDATE ON THE MINI HORSES! HERE
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Credit photo of J. Yates