Horse Rescue Farm Accused of Neglect - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/30/04

Horse Rescue Farm Accused of Neglect

One of seven horses on the farm. One of seven horses on the farm.

Folks at a small farm in Ellabell say they save the horses from the slaughterhouse, but others claim somebody needs to rescue the horses from the rescuers. Now state agencies may be stepping in. Complaints of abused horses have been flooding the Georgia Department of Agriculture. People claim the horse rescue has caused more harm than good. The owners disagree.

Nichole Parker grew up with horses. She's looking to get a new one for her daughter. "We love horses, we have horses," she said.  A few weeks ago, Nichole stopped by the Ellabell Loop horse rescue. She was shocked by what she saw: "really skinny horses. Horses in bad condition. Look like they haven't been fed."

Nichole says the signs are obvious, like the ribs on one horse showing through. She says they should be fatter and healthier.

But the owners say they have water, they have hay, and there is nothing wrong. "They get grains and vitamins every day," said owner Robert Irving, who declined to appear on camera. He claims the seven horses they care for were all abused or about to be sent to slaughter, but even he's surprised how long it is taking to nurse the horses back to health.

"If I were to look at them, I would say they look starved too," he said. "But they are fed every day, and I have the food bills to prove it, believe me."

But Nichole isn't buying the excuses. "A healthy horse is not supposed to look like this," she said. "Something is wrong. There is no reason for them to look the way they look."

The Department of Agriculture has fielded similar complaints about the Ellabell Loop rescue farm. They did stop out to visit the farm yesterday, but no one was home.

Richard Irving says if people have a problem with the animals, they should come see him and he can explain the situation.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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