Veterinarian Investigates Allegations of Horse Abuse - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/30/04

Veterinarian Investigates Allegations of Horse Abuse

Dr. Lewis examines a horse. Dr. Lewis examines a horse.

We have an update to a story we first brought you last night on THE News at 11. The Ellabell Loop horse rescue has been taking in old and abused horses for ten years. But now, some people are accusing the owners of abusing the very animals they're trying to help.

We went back to the farm today along with an equine veterinarian to investigate. Dr. Mike Lewis spent an extensive amount of time examining the horses. He says they're in relatively good condition, but there is one thing the owners need to do.

One by one, Dr. Lewis examined the animals. Several, like Chris, who's about 28 or 29 years old, need to put on some pounds.

"He's at least 200 pounds underweight," said Dr. Lewis. "Generally, you look at their hips and when you see the hip bone and the along the back. Usually, people look at their ribs, which is not a good indication, but he's about 200 pounds underweight."

His leg muscles are damaged from years of riding. Dr. Lewis says it's not an abuse problem, but it does mean he'll need to stay on the light side. "He should probably gain a hundred pounds, but I wouldn't put any more weight on him than that," said Dr. Lewis. "It's hard to believe, but I've seen them much skinnier than this."

Many of the horses are more than 20 years old. Dr. Lewis says it's important to remember, older horses are a lot like older people. They both have a hard time gaining weight and keeping it on.

"Especially during the winter, and that's the thing," said Dr. Lewis. "This time of year, it's not a big deal for a horse, but once it gets to be December and it gets cold, they just don't have the fat to insulate themselves and keep themselves warm."

Overall, he says their coats, teeth and feet are in excellent condition. "I don't see a horse that I see a lot of problems with except being underweight," Dr. Lewis said.

Owner Ann Irving says the horses have hay and water all the time and she feeds them grain at least twice a day. She says she is working to fatten them up. "I feed them to where they'll keep eating and I keep increasing it every time," she said. "I just want them to know I'm doing the best I can with them."

Irving says one good thing that has come out of this. She's glad to see that people who have passed by the farm really do care about the horses. She wants them to know, she does, too, and she's doing everything she can to care for them. She also says also willing to talk with anyone who wants to come by and see the horses.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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