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The Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation rescued 11 malnourished horses and a donkey from an Indiantown pasture.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office received a tip and it led investigators to a property on Southwest Amaryliss Avenue and Southwest Arrowroot Road. On Monday, the owner surrendered the animals which appeared severely neglected.
"This isn't normal. Horses don't look like this," said Ashley Villoresi, barn manager at Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation in Palm City.
Barely able to walk, a male thoroughbred horse is at least 600 pounds underweight.
"You never know when the last time they were fed was," added Villoresi.
Villoresi said the rescue agency took the animals in what is their largest rescue yet after learning they were living in poor conditions.
"They were out with a herd of cows, barbed wire fencing, the water was disgusting, there wasn't any food around," added Villoresi.
The Sheriff's Agricultural Crimes Unit got the owner to cooperate in the investigation.
"They're going to need around the clock care in the beginning, especially our thinnest horses which is at death's door," said Villoresi.
The thoroughbred's bones are visible through his skin and his hooves are in serious need of treatment.
"He's got a crack that goes all the way up here," said Villoresi.
Rescue staff said their bloated bellies are a result of parasites.
"It will be a long road. For some of them, they'll bounce back quicker than others," said Villoresi.
Villoresi said the rescue agency will need donations to help care for the additional animals. The staff just hopes this is an awakening to owners who can't properly care for their animals.
"A lot of times they didn't realize what they're doing is wrong," added Villoresi.
The owner may face charges.
To donate to the rescue agency, click here.
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