ALDF Sues to Rescue Starving Horses

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on January 14, 2009

As feed prices continue to skyrocket, so does the number of neglected horses. On Monday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the United States Equine Rescue League, and a county animal cruelty investigator filed a complaint against three North Carolina residents for severely neglecting eight horses whom they starved–in one case, literally to death–and deprived of all veterinary care. ALDF is seeking permanent custody of the abused animals as well as the costs of caring for the animals.

On December 17, 2008, acting on an equine veterinarian’s calls for help, Wake County’s animal cruelty investigator, along with the United States Equine Rescue League, seized six horses from a field where they had been left by Michael, Judy, and Gayle Keating. The horses, who had been deprived of even minimal food and care, were in severe distress and literally starving to death. Another horse, a mare named Rain, could barely stand when she was found, and, before she could be rescued, died of starvation in a state of extremely painful stomach and intestinal cramping; her corpse was also seized from the field.

There were no signs of edible hay anywhere on the property, and no grain other than a portion Gayle Keating had brought out to Rain the night before the mare died of starvation; the grass in the horses’ enclosure had been eaten down to the ground. The horses, some of them nursing or pregnant, had been eating bark off of trees in a desperate attempt to get nourishment. The Keatings could provide no evidence of veterinary care for any of the horses at any time, and the condition of all of the seized horses indicated progressive states of malnutrition and starvation, making it clear that the Keatings had been neglecting them continuously for an extended period of time.

ALDF urges everyone to be especially aware of horses and other farm
animals this season, and to report cases where you suspect animals are
not being properly cared for. Read ALDF’s Actionline alert for
information about reporting a neglect case and ways you can help animals in need.

Visit our photo gallery for pictures of the rescued horses and a description of each horse’s condition before the rescue. Watch a before and after video of Lacy,
one of the rescued horses who was pregnant and so close to death she
was rushed to the North Carolina State College School of Veterinary
Medicine for critical care.


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