Neglected horses, other animals removed from Maryland farm

Twenty-six horses are recovering at Howard County's Days End Farm Horse Rescue. They are among more than 40 animals, many starving and neglected, that were found May 13 at a farm in Garrett County, Md.
By Michael E. Ruane
Saturday, May 22, 2010

No. 9 is a tall, rangy horse familiar with people but a good 300 pounds underweight. His ribs protrude beneath his skin. He has no fat on his body and little muscle, and he is in the last stages of starvation.

In a stall across from him stands No. 26, an emaciated bay gelding with probable stomach parasites. He watches over No. 17, a skittish 6-month-old filly in the next stall that flinches at an extended hand.

Outside, in a pasture, there's No. 3, another skinny horse, with an abscessed tooth, and several other horses that have had so little contact with people that they're virtually wild.

They are among 26 horses, many starving and neglected, that were taken last week from a farm in Garrett County, Md., to the Days End Farm Horse Rescue facility in Woodbine in Howard County.

The horses, in addition to cattle and goats, were found in a muddy field devoid of much grass where the hungry animals had apparently gnawed away tree bark to stay alive, said a rescue farm official and a volunteer with the Garrett Humane Society.

The field was also littered with animal remains, some of which appeared to have been burned in a refuse pile, the rescue farm official said.

The animals were taken from the field May 13 at the behest of the Garrett Humane Society after an inspection by a local veterinarian, said Deb Clatterbuck, a volunteer investigator with the Humane Society. An anonymous caller had contacted the agency about the situation.

The veterinarian, Fred Adams, said Friday: "The basic problem is [that] too many horses and cattle on too limited an amount of property with inadequate nutrition resulted in a lot of very thin, emaciated, weak animals."

Clatterbuck declined to identify the animals' owner, saying that information was being gathered.

Garrett State's Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch said Friday that the investigation was being conducted by the Humane Society, which under Maryland law can seek charges through District Court.

A District Court commissioner would review an application. If probable cause is found, the court would issue the appropriate charges via a summons or a warrant, she said. Her office would prosecute. She said an investigation was underway.

The horses were taken in a trailer convoy to Days End. The other animals were taken elsewhere.

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