Clay County, This is a crime. Treat it as such

The details of the Palomino mare and colt case from Mountain Home road in Ivydale, WV:

A story will air on the local news (Channel 8) concerning this case on 8/4/16, and if the department handles it in the best interests of the foal, mare and equine welfare by charging the owner, it will be a very heartwarming save on the part of the county.

A mare was turned over on 8/2/16 to Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue from Clay County, WV. We have learned the ownership surrender was signed 8/3/16 at the sheriff’s office for her, as well.

We became aware of the situation after a complainant reported it to us, and then Clay County reached out to Kanawha County animal control for suggestions on what to do to resolve it. We were notified, and we called to offer assistance.
The sheriff assured us via telephone, given the condition of the animals, they would be seized and turned over to the care of HOP. So we made a 2 hour trip to pick them up.

Upon arrival, we found an extremely emaciated mare and her growth stunted colt. The mare was lame, covered in flies and bites, bleeding from wounds and kept in a trash filled, grass-less area without clean water. There was/still is a cow on site also in fairly poor shape (for a steer). This was a crime scene. The owner needed to be charged with neglect of the mare, foal and steer. We watched the steer try to go through barbed wire to get to some poor quality hay on the other side over and over. It was extremely sad.

The mare was standing in manure, mud and filth in a small building to escape the sun. Sharp objects were all over. The foal was not even as large as a one month old foal, but he was actually 2.5 months old. The foal’s spine and hips were easy to feel, and though he was not emaciated like the mare, his coat was rough and his weight and size were not that of a well grown, healthy colt due to malnutrition.

We found that instead of allowing us to save both, as we had been told we could, the sheriff then refused to allow us to rescue the foal. Our options were to take the mare, as she could barely walk and the owner was willing to relinquish her, and leave the foal to the neighbor who was a friend of the owner, or to leave both. The conditions the horses were under, as well as a steer on the property, were poor enough to warrant seizure and charges. There was no way to leave the crippled mare behind. There was no reason to believe that would be safe for her at all.

The foal was not seized or relinquished, simply moved temporarily at that time. We’ve never been given a clear answer about whether that has changed now. Nothing legally has been done to assure he doesn’t go back to that horrible place in time. We asked the sheriff to seize and release him to us for care. To criminally charge the owner.

Had we left both, no chance of charges would exist, it would have disappeared, and the owner would have gotten away with everything. He still may if people do not ask for legal action. The foal would probably have pulled through, but the mare would not have had immediate vet care or knowledgeable rescuers on her side.

The foal simply ended up a short way down the road. The man who took him admitted he used to own the mare and sold her to the current owner, a friend of his, and locals said he saw them frequently. So he knew about the horrible conditions these 2 lived under. This man saw his friend starve a mare he sold to him nearly to death right by his home, so this was and is not a safe place for her.

“Allowing the negligent owner’s buddy to oversee

the colt is not a good answer.”

The foal is too young to wean when his mother was able to care for him at that time
(even if he had to be supplemented). You only bucket raise when the mother cannot. Sure, we could have left her behind. . .to die trying to raise him, and her lameness ignored, her teeth ignored, probably eventually dying of refeeding syndrome. . .or worse. Even with the best care, her future is bleak because of how long she was neglected.

The reasoning behind this decision (made by local law enforcement) was that the owners of the pair shouldn’t have to be deprived of all “their investment,” by losing the mare and the foal, too. This is not how criminal cases should be decided.

A well known Equine Veterinarian notified the Sheriff and Prosecutor that the foal, for health concerns, had to be reunited with his mother in the rescue immediately. This was ignored.


Be polite, but you can now call and request the correct action be taken. This type of public outcry can backfire if callers are not calm and to the point, respectful and rational. If you are a credentialed expert (a vet) or in animal control or are a sheriff or deputy, and you can call, that may be especially helpful.

While we want the foal returned to his mother to be raised, we’ve learned on 8/4/16 a vet (no name has been released) examined the foal finally. We are told the vet said the foal is small for his age, but he is healthy. While we do not believe the foal is truly healthy from all we saw in our expert opinion, we know if a vet really went on record with such a statement, the foal will likely never see his mother again at only 2.5 months old.

But the fact is, Charges need filed against the person responsible for this neglect. This mare has suffered so much.

It is important to remember that FUTURE cases ride on a relationship with this county, and that is why I try to be slow about public outcry call to action posts. The future of OTHER HORSES IN NEED this year and for years to come hinges on being able to work out something the resembles a good relationship there.

The West Virginia HSUS Director and National Level HSUS has been contacted, and they are doing all they can to assist with this case having expressed deep concerns to the sheriff’s department about separating the mare and foal.

Expert opinions, local and nationally, are that the foal shouldn’t be separated from his mother unless there is no choice.

Clay County Sheriff’s Department: (304) 587-4260

State of Police in Clay: (304) 286-3185

Clay County Prosecuting Attorney: (304) 587-2702


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

28 thoughts on “Clay County, This is a crime. Treat it as such

  1. PLEASE PLEASE reunite this baby with its mother, it’s way to young and weak to be away from her at this point, please listen to the veterinarian advice before this baby takes a turn for the worse. It’s the humane and ethical thing to do.

  2. Foals need special care and need to be with their mother. The adult horse/mother is obviously been starved and neglected and the final will be too. Please surrender them together, it’s the responsible thing to do.

  3. I don’t understamd how a baby & its mother can be legally separated w.out 1 person w. an ounce of brain, protesting this! ALL the animals, cow, steer & I’m sure others, are being left in the hands of sheer ignorance & slow deaths! U see it but it has to be dicussed 1st.! W H A T ??

  4. This is way too young for the removal of a foal. And if The mare is now getting nourishment she will be able to do much more for the foal than replacer will. I’ve raised horses and livestock for years. The fact that these people let this mare get to this condition is quite sad because that takes a lot of neglect. Please do what’s right and give this guy the best chance of a good life.

  5. I received a call back from the Attorney Generals office and he said they don’t have jurisdiction,. He says the County Prosecutor needs to be involved.

  6. It is neglect and abuse to keep a foal away from its mother and only source of nourishment at this colts age. Please do the medically necessary thing and reunite the pair, and do the morally right thing and press charges on the abusers that allowed things to get so bad.

  7. THIS was down right WRONG TO SEPARATE this MARE/ MOTHER from her FOAL COLT, they need each other and this MARE needs CAREFUL FOOD introductions slowly increased over time and this foal should also receive some extra milk supply to help suppliment this mother till she is a bit stronger to maintain more milk over time this FOAL is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too YOUNG to be separated from its mother ,SHAME SHAME ON ALL who separated them in the first place, WOULD YOU SEPARATE a human mother and her baby that is sucking MILK> DUH>

  8. How can any rational human being (sheriff) look at this starved mare and colt and make the decision to leave the colt behind to die??? INVESTMENT??? What has this person invested in the care and cost of care of these horses???
    There is NO investment guarantee in life! If the ‘owner’ wanted a return on ‘investment’ of these horses…SHE SHOULD HAVE FED THEM!!!!
    This is a disgrace and makes me embarrassed to say I am from
    West Virginia! Law enforcement has made the decision to reward animal abuse instead of prosecute. Pathetic!

  9. Please do the right thing for this poor mare. She is obviously malnourished and neglected. If the owner can’t or won’t care for her, then let someone who will have her AND her baby.

  10. Please reunite this goal with it’s mother. This is clearly the humane thing to do.

  11. Why are we allowing people to get away with neglecting these poor animals that have done no wrong. Clay Country Do the right thing.

  12. I tried calling all 3 numbers and either no one answers or I get a busy signal…? Trying to help rescue this foal!

  13. Please unite the foal with its mother. This poor foal needs its mom. Why would you take the mother from the goal.

  14. Please I implore you. The foal will grow up with all manner of problems being separated from his mother this young. They both need care and together. The steer also needs care. They can’t possibly be that much of an investment to the owner if he or she is starving them to death. Please please please prosecute the owner this is animal cruelty at its harshest. They are suffering and in pain. No life form should suffer like this ever it is heart breaking to see. The owner needs to answer to their actions of animal cruelty. Or animal cruelty will never cease. They will do it again and again.
    Linda Heffernan

  15. What is wrong with LE “handling” this case?? Sounds like starving, abused animals are of no concern. Or, rather the “good ole boy” system is alive and well. Either way, you disgust me. How long have you gone without a meal?or a place to lay your head? Better yet, how would you like to stand around I your own filth?Asking pretty please to do the right thing is an abomination. Do the right thing–now. Develop the empathy you are obviously lacking.

  16. The horses should be seized and put into foster care until a forever home is found. The owners should never be allowed to owner operator horse facility. And the police department needs to be educated.

  17. This is inhumane and the colt needs the proper treatment the mare is getting . They need to be together at the rescue. Why hasn’t the ASPCA been contacted ?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: