Horses Returned, Legal Battle Not Over - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/06/05

Horses Returned, Legal Battle Not Over

We often here about animal control officers removing pets from unfit homes. But one Tattnall County man says his animals got worse treatment from the county than they got at home. Ray Akins says the horses were left in the hot sun and underfed by county workers, who claimed he wasn't caring for them properly.

Walking around his family's horses, Akins isn't as happy to see them as he is mad. "The animals are in pitiful shape now compared to when they left here, and it seems a shame they can do this and get away with it," he said.

WTOC was there in late March when Tattnall County Animal Control removed the horses, claiming they were endangered by a rising river next door. While they face animal neglect and abandonment charges, Akins and his family got their horses back Friday.

"That pony over there, do you see all the cuts and scrapes on her?" he showed us. "She wasn't that way when they left here."

He says the growths on one horse's nose are from sand mites and too much exposure to the sun in county custody. He says the last three months have been one legal fight after another, with arrest warrants and court appearances.

Akins says this may have started with the best of intentions for the animals' well being. But when he fought back, the county tried to save face.

Animal Control has a different story. They say the past six weeks, the animals were in the care of a private farrier that Akins' family chose.

"He had access and could feed them any time he wanted to, care for them, get them medical attention," said Animal Control's Loretta Boyette.

Akins will face a jury trial in September and both sides promise more accusations will fly then.

Akins says they were charged $80 a day for the care of the horses. He says he and his son-in-law will sue the county for the fees and the horses' conditions.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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