HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Nearly a dozen emaciated horses are on the mend after the animals were seized from a farm in Charles City County.
The pictures are disturbing. The owner surrendered ten horses and a goat late last month to Charles City Animal Control. They're now in the permanent custody of the United States Equine Rescue League.
It could take up to a year for the horses to get back to good health. That's if they survive this initial critical stage of rehabilitation.
Meet Speckles, a 7-year-old stallion. He's 300 pounds underweight.
"You should not be able to see his spine," said Susan White, Director Richmond Region United States Equine Rescue League.
Speckles came to White with his bones protruding and barely able to stand.
"He's very emaciated. On a scale of 1 to 9, he's a one and a half," said White.
The stallion is one of ten horses removed from a farm near Old Union Road in Charles City County last month. According to the United States Equine Rescue League, the horses were dehydrated, their feet neglected, and teeth worn down from chewing on the wood in their stalls.
Speckles was lying in his own urine and feces. White says a tip led to the discovery of the horses' filthy living conditions. Charles City County officials would only say the case is under investigation and the commonwealth's attorney is deciding whether to press charges against the owner.
"She did voluntarily surrender the horses which was a good thing. They desperately needed help," said White.
White said depending on how much food is given, it could take months to years for a horse to get to this point. Rehabilitation could take up to a year. Speckles is now on a controlled diet.
"His ribs are visible. He's hallow, here his hip bones are sticking out," said White.
He could gain his weight back in six months.
"We hope he's going to make it. They all don't survive because of their neglect, but this little guy seems to be perking right along," said White.
The rehabilitation program includes veterinary and farrier care. The horses are in foster homes right now and once rehabilitation is complete, they will be put up for adoption.