PLAIN VIEW — A case of possible animal hoarding is being investigated in northern Sampson County, where 54 horses are being assessed by a rescue league, with five of the animals already in foster care.
According to information released by the Southeast Coast Region of the U.S. Equine Rescue League (USERL), that office was contacted Thursday night by Sampson County Animal Control officers who requested they assist in the case.
Volunteers with the group were on hand Friday afternoon to assess the animals. Five were immediately placed into care, others, the group said, were pending.
Ponies, miniature horses, yearlings and elderly horses were co-mingled in several enclosures in a barn on Bob Rupert Drive near Plain View.
No charges have been filed, according to officials with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department.
USERL does not comment on legal issues involving horse abuse and neglect, the release noted.
“It was disgusting,” said chapter director Debbie Walsh Bartholomew of what they found. “We have two-week-old babies, pregnant mares, stallions, all mixed in together.”
Most of the horses are suffering from malnutrition, and many have open wounds, serious infections and skin issues, group officials noted. The horses, they said, range from body scores of 3 (moderate to poor health) to 1 (critical).
“This is one of the worst cases we’ve seen in North Carolina,” Bartholomew said. “It’s a textbook example of why people need to have their stallions gelded. Horses are not like big dogs — you can’t just turn them loose to graze and expect them to remain healthy.”
Donation accounts to purchase feed and medicine for the animals have been set up through Backyard Feeds in Leland and B&K Supply in Burgaw. Material donations, transporters and volunteer fosters are also needed, Bartholomew said.
“If anyone would like to help, we need everything,” she stressed, noting such things as fosters, adoptions (through or not through the rescue league), money, grain and hay.
Volunteers are using social media to spread the word about the case through the group’s Facebook page, USERL-SECR.
The USERL is a national, non-profit equine rescue organization. All donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of donations go to the care and rehabilitation of abandoned, abused and neglected horses. The Southeaast Coast Region serves all of eastern North Carolina.