EARLHAM, Iowa -- The Animal Rescue League is now caring for nine ponies seized from a farm near Earlham on Thursday.
The ARL said the Madison County Sheriff's Office and Earlham Police Department were responding to an animal neglect complaint when they found about 60 welsh ponies at an Earlham farm, many of which were in terrible condition.
“What we look for when it comes to nourishment is we are looking for whether the hip bones and the hip pins are visible, the tail head is exposed, the ribs are visible, fat deposits on the withers will be depleted and we found that in a number of horses on the property,” ARL Welfare Intervention Coordinator Jay Wilson said.
Rescuers said while they were at the farm, some of the ponies were so hungry they were eating pretty much anything, including the hair that had fallen from other ponies. Some were locked in stalls, standing in three to four feet of mud and feces.
“These people used to be professional horse breeders and they should know exactly how much work horses are, and the fact that they are either incapable or unwilling to provide care for these horses to the point where we see them in this condition, it astounds me and it angers me, quite honestly,” Wilson said.
The Executive Director of the ARL, Tom Colvin, said it’s heartbreaking to see the ponies in these conditions.
“There is absolutely no excuse for what these ponies have gone through. While we are happy the nine ponies at our Second Chance Ranch will now be getting the help they need, we are still are very concerned for the approximately 50 ponies that still remain on the property and hope that all of the ponies will soon have the outcome they need and deserve,” Colvin said.
The ponies at Second Chance Ranch will be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
"We are going to check all of them for parasites. We are going to check their teeth, which is often time a common reason why horses lose weight. We are going to get a farrier out to start clearing up the hooves so that these horses can walk comfortably," Wilson said. "We are going to check for any sort of infection, skin conditions. There are some horses that are showing hair loss. There are a number of things that have to be checked to make these horses more comfortable."
Police cited the owners for neglect and improper disposal of two ponies found dead at the farm. The ARL said it will continue working closely with police to make sure the rest of the ponies still there get the care they need.