‘As bad as it gets before death’ Rescues take horses after animal cruelty probe

By Andrew James

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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) – Local rescue organizations took in animals seized during an animal cruelty investigation in Rutherford County last week.

According to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, 23 horses, 17 goats and one sheep were all taken from Paws Ranch after a search warrant was executed on Feb. 24. Delores Hanser, 63, is charged with 11 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, one count of improper burial and two counts of specific animal care requirements.

The Bell Run Sanctuary is an animal rescue now caring for five of the 23 horses seized. One of the horses, Zander, was treated for an infection and a possible broken leg on Monday.

“It’s long-term neglect and that’s what’s so disheartening and worrisome for those of us who love equines,” said Mary Adams, founder of The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run.

Two other horses, Cowgirl and Pops, are also facing numerous medical issues. Adams said they had a body condition score of 1, meaning they were at risk of starvation. Horses also have rain rot.

“It’s about as bad as before death,” she said.

At this time, the horses removed from the Rutherford County farm are quarantined due to the conditions in which they were living.

“There are a lot of unknowns as to what they could possibly be carrying that could still come up, so you just have to be very careful and be very hygienic,” said Joann Kelly, from Hasty’s Haven.

Refeeding syndrome is one of the main concerns as these horses continue to recover.

“That’s when you start feeding them again; their bodies can’t process the protein and nutrients they get too quickly, and they can, if you feed them too quickly, it can cause organ failure,” Adams said.

In less than a week, The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run spent $2,500 on blood work alone. Adams said this is just the beginning of a long list of medical needs for horses.

“We’re going to fix it, we’re going to do it, we’re going to depend on the community of people who love equines here,” she said.

The Red Bell Run Sanctuary receives donations for necessary medical care for horses.

Donations are taken by Rutherford County Animal Control.

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