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


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