Officials Investigate Williamson County Horse Neglect Case
WILLIAMSON CO. -- State and local officials are investigating a possible case of animal abuse in Williamson County.
They received numerous complaints from neighbors that horses on a Marion farm aren't receiving proper care and dead animals have been left to rot in the yard.
We talked to several concerned neighbors who say they're happy to know something is finally being done. They call it a sad situation that's been going on for years.
We want to warn you the video in this story could be upsetting to some viewers.
At first glance, the horses seem happy and healthy. But look a little closer and that may not be the case.
"It's heartbreaking because we have such a passion for the animals and such a love for what we do," said SIU Equine Program Director Dr. Erin Beth Venable.
Standing along Mustang Street in Williamson County you can see five horses eating hay and drinking water. But neighbors say that hasn't always been the case. Friday is the first time in months they've seen the herd fed.
According to SIU Equine Program Director Dr. Venable, horses should eat about two percent of their body weight each day.
"Just for some rough math, if you've got a 1,000 pounds horse, they need to be taking in about 20 pounds a day," she explained.
This week officials started an investigation into the welfare of these animals. Williamson County Animal Control made a visit and called in an inspector from the Department of Agriculture.
Friday the inspector issued two violations. One for a lack of readily available food and water and another for not properly disposing of these carcasses, which must be done within 24 hours of death.
Venable says there are many ways to take care of the corpses, including burying them in your own yard.
"There are requirements associated with space from a water source, space from a residence, the depth that the horse must be buried at," she explained.
The state inspector says one horse died this week and the other has been dead for several weeks. The doctor says those carcasses are now a health hazard to the other animals.
It's a situation Venable believes could have been avoided. "Make sure you do a little homework first before you jump in and get a 1,200 pound animal that you're really not equipped to handle," she insisted.
We tried to contact the owner of the horses but no one answered when we knocked on the door.
The owner has 12 hours to provide adequate food and water and was ordered to bury the dead animals Friday. An inspector will do another check Saturday.
The Williamson County state's attorney is now reviewing the case.
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