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Duncan officials investigate horse neglect

Duncan_The Stephens County Humane Society is trying to rescue four emaciated horses near Duncan--who they say have been starved.

Humane Society director Tina Hoffman says they've received several calls this month about malnourished and potentially neglected horses, and want to make sure people know they will help.

Hoffman says she understands times are tough and money is tight, but there's no excuse not to feed an animal.

She went to see the horses, and found them in a yard with no food, almost no grass, and no water trough.  The horses are so skinny you can count each individual rib as the skin wraps tightly around each bone.

"Very emaciated," Hoffman said.  "Collarbones--probably every bone on their body you could see.  Fly bites covering their bodies.  Their hoofs definitely were cracked.  They were in very poor condition."

A passerby spotted the horses and called the Humane Society, who found the horses on bare ground, except for a few weeds and a lot of feces.

"This isn't enough vegetation for anything to live on," Hoffman said.

"There was no hay on the ground, no grain on the ground.  Very sparse water source--kind of a pond--and we're thankful it rained because that's giving them the water they're drinking right now."

The droppings attract bugs, which attack the horses and leave them with bloody bite marks.

Hoffman contacted the sheriff's department requesting a seizure warrant to put the horses in foster care.

Deputies went with Hoffman to investigate the animals, and Hoffman continues to visit the animals to make sure they haven't died.

After the first visit, the owner dumped some feed and some hay for the horses, but Hoffman says it will take a long time for them to recover.

"No time under a year, and that is with a special diet, upping what they need in their nutrients, a constant source of food, not skipping every few days."

The Stephens County District Attorney's office says the investigation is pending a veterinarian report.  They have not filed charges, but if it's determined that the owner neglected the animals, which is a felony, they will face criminal charges.

State horsing officials say many owners who can't afford to care for their horses may be leaving them to starve instead.  Slaughtering horses is no longer an option-- it is now banned in Oklahoma.

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