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Horse Neglect A Growing Problem

DSCN1062Neglected large animals have always been an issue in Montgomery County, but the problem is increasing. On August 19, deputies with the Pct. 4 Constable’s Office and members of the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals converged on a property in the 9000 block of Fostoria Road where they seized four horses, having found one horse deceased and four more in very poor condition and in need of food and water a day earlier.

Pct. 4 Livestock Deputies have repeatedly responded to the location regarding reports of the horses’ poor health, or because the horses escaped due to inadequate fencing. Pct. 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden has personally corralled and returned the horses having found them out of their fence and on the busy roadway.

Last year, a horse at the same address broke free in search for food and was struck and killed on the roadway.

During the past couple of years, deputies repeatedly warned the owner, who would then improve the horses’ conditions. However, before long, conditions would deteriorate again.

The latest and final response regarding the horses came after multiple calls stating a horse was down and its owner’s dogs were attacking it. Deputies found the information to be accurate. The horse, which was skin and bones and showed other signs of neglect, was on the ground with untreated wounds from the dogs’ attack.

When deputies and the SPCA arrived on August 19, the next day, they found the owner had purchased two square bales of hay the night before and given less than half of one bale to the starving horses. The horses were taken by the SPCA pending the outcome of the seizure hearing before Judge James Metts.

Multiple witness statements were submitted regarding the owner’s neglect of the horses, in addition to photographic evidence and the SPCA’s evaluation of their malnutrition. Judge Metts awarded the horses to the SPCA and ordered the owner to pay restitution of $1,420.

Pct. 4 now plans to pursue criminal charges against the horses’ owner.

More recently, deputies responded to Highline Oaks West regarding a Shetland pony running lose with a broken leg in a homemade cast. An investigation revealed the owner brought the pony from Fort Worth for a small rodeo event and the horse’s leg was broken during that time. Instead of getting the pony professional help, the owner splinted the leg and made a cast of what deputies said appeared to be fiberglass that was too tight. The pony was inside a small and inadequate fence at the owner’s in-laws’ residence off of Highline Blvd. when it escaped.

The family claims they tried for days to recapture the injured pony but were unsuccessful. The horse was never reported as lost and the owner returned to Fort Worth without finding him. When the pony was discovered, the flesh around the leg was covered in maggots, rotten and falling off the bone with gangrene having set in and the horse had lockjaw. The pony was beyond help and had to be put down. Criminal charges will also be pursued against that horse’s owner.

Constable Hayden said both cases were disturbing and sickening.

“It’s unfortunate that people can be so cruel to the animals that depend on them for survival,” Constable Hayden said. “But it’s not just morally wrong, it’s against the law, and when we find this type of neglect and abuse we’ll do all that’s within our power to see that the owners pay civilly and criminally.”

Pct. 4 livestock deputies stay busy with calls from people regarding starving or diseased horses and other animals, with many reports occurring because the animals escaped from their owners’ property in search of food or water.

The Constable suggested those with circumstances making them unable to financially provide for their horses, or who simply no longer want the animals, should contact equine rescues or find other horse owners willing to take the animals rather than allowing them to suffer and risking prosecution.

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