Some neighbors have expressed a growing concern over the health and safety of horses being kept on a property near their homes on McAllister Road in Coarsegold.
For the past few months, Bridgette Russell of Coarsegold has been keeping a watchful eye on a group of what she is calling malnourished horses. She says she is convinced that the owner is not properly caring for the horses and the matter needs to be addressed.
“Right now on a scale of 1-5 they are probably a two,” Russell said. “If, within the next few months, he stops feeding them again we will be looking at the same results as the bay mare that was put down.”
Russell says she is looking out for the best interest of the horses and hopes that something will be done soon.
“I would love for them to give the horses up to someone who could properly care for them. I am not interested in getting the owner in trouble. I just want what’s best for the horses,” Russell said.
Other concerned residents, including a woman named Ursa, who declined to use her last name, agrees that the horses are fed irregularly and are constantly hungry for food. Ursa and others have gone as far as to take feed to the horses themselves out of fear they might die.
“When horses this thin and malnourished are thrown green alfalfa hay, they will founder. It’s called laminitis. It’s like taking a malnourished P.O.W. and feeding him his first meal of filet in a heavy cream sauce,” Ursa said.
Both Ursa and Russell have recently reached out to Madera County Animal Services but believe the process is not moving fast enough to ensure the safety of the horses.
Director of Madera County Animal Services Kristin Gross said in a phone interview that officers have been on scene and will be monitoring the situation on a weekly basis.
“They (horses) are not in premium condition according to an officer on the scene....when they arrived they found feed on the premises, but we will be monitoring and meeting with the owner again next week,” Gross said.
According to witnesses, one of the five horses was put down last week on the scene after it was determined that the horse was too sick and unable to get up after falling down.
Although there are major concerns over the well-being of these horses, some neighbors believe the owner is doing his best and has been seen feeding the horses on a regular basis.
Neighbor Bill Hillerman, who owns a horse himself, says he has seen the owner, or people sent by the owner, feed the horses on a regular basis and claims the horses look fine to him.
“I eat lunch and supper everyday and see the owner feed those horses three-to-four times a week. I would say they are of average health for this time of year,” Hillerman said.
Hillerman also claims to have examined the gums and teeth of the deceased horse prior to its death and says the horse could have been anywhere between 25 to 30 years of age.
“He could have fed that horse a truck load of hay and it would not have gained weight....it was just old,” Hillerman said.
According to KMPH Fox 26, who spoke with the property owner (different from the horses’ owner), the horses have been living there for awhile and he doesn’t see any major health concerns.
“The horses have been on my property for two and a half years and there’s never been a problem with the horses’ owner feeding them.”
The name of the horses’ owner, who declined to comment during this television interview, was not released by Madera County Animal Services.
As for now, four horses remain on the property and will be monitored by Animal Services.
According to Gross, the Animal Shelter has more than 30 cases involving mistreated or malnourished horses that they are currently monitoring and investigating.
“Horses are unique pets and require special services and diets from the owners. If someone is unable to care for the animals, Animal Services will look into finding a good stable home,” Russell said.
The Animal Shelter encourages people to call if they believe an animal is being neglected or mistreated. Madera Country Animal Shelter: (559) 675-7891