Matthew Stroman (Source: Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center)
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) -
An Orangeburg County man is facing serious charges after officers discovered a mother horse and her baby dead, and several others suffering from malnourishment on his property, according to the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department.
Officers charged 77-year-old Matthew Stroman with five counts of ill treatment of animals after investigating a call from a concerned citizen on May 6.
According to a sheriff's department incident report, when a responding deputy arrived to the property located at 470 Rivers Turn Road, the officer found a dead female horse that appeared to be giving birth to a baby that was also deceased.
Stroman told the deputy he knew the horse had died a week before. According to the report, Stroman said he had started digging a hole for the horses, but could not continue because of physical limitations.
He said he searched for someone to dig the hole for him, but was unable to find anyone willing to do so, the report stated. According to the officer, Stroman said he had planned to "let the buzzards eat what they wanted of the horse and then he would bury the bones."
The deputy observed five other living horses which appeared to be emaciated, according to the report.
Stroman told the deputy that he fed the horses three times a week.
The officer noted seeing water for the horses in 55 gallon drums. "However the water had mosquito larva in it," the officer wrote. The report also said there was no shelter available to the horses and that old and wet hay was around the dead horse.
The horses were taken by animal control from the scene for care and treatment.
It was a neighbor who noticed the buzzards circling a dead horse on the property Monday.
"Monday when I noticed it, all there were mares with little newborn babies, walking right around this dead horse," said Judy Degner. "It really was just horrible."
Monday wasn't the first time she called the SPCA and Sheriff's Department.
"This could have been avoided," she said. "Back in March when I first called that horse was still alive, because nothing happened no one came and checked and cared for it died, it could have been avoided."
Animal control said the vet Stroman claimed to be using is no longer licensed.
The SPCA didn't handle this case but says animal neglect is a huge problem in Orangeburg County.
"I'd say 85% of our animals, we do get from animal control that have been picked up on the side of the road," said Betty Jean Defazio with the SPCA.
Here's another troubling point: the SPCA has only one large animal inspector statewide.
"We have a huge horse industry in South Carolina, I mean Camden and Aiken, just a big horse business," said Degner. "There is a lot of money in horses and to have one person responsible for the entire state, just doesn't even seem possible."
There are alternatives to neglecting an animal
"If you can't take care of an animal we have rescues that we deal with we'd be more than happy to give you their numbers," said Defazio.
Degner said the state needs more resources, if so there might have been a different outcome.
"I really do hope and pray the state will put some more resources, have more inspectors so these things can get taken care of quickly," said Degner.
Stroman was booked into the Orangeburg-Calhoun Regional Detention Center. He was later released on $5,000 bond.