Deputies joined the county’s humane society employees at about 5 p.m. in responding to a complaint about malnourished horses at a Julia Drive property in Rocky Ridge, which is just west of Oak Harbor.
They arrived to find two horses, a Palomino and an American Paint, in various states of neglect.
“One is in poor condition, the other is in fair condition,” Ottawa County Humane Society Officer Denny Hammond said.
The older horse, about 20 years old, is in worse shape than the other horse, which is about 5 years old. Hammond said humane society workers have been sent to the property before. This time, they were tipped off by a source.
“It’s been an ongoing thing,” Hammond said.
Officials loaded the horses into a trailer late Tuesday and transported them to a farm on West Fremont Road. The older horse appeared especially malnourished, as the contours of its rib bones, hip bones and spine were easily seen under its taut skin.
Hammond said a veterinarian is treating the animals, both of which are expected to live.
The horses are being fed hay, with humane society officials monitoring them periodically.
“They’re making sure the horses are eating and standing,” Hammond said. “They’re different from dogs and cats. You have to keep (a horse’s) blood flowing”
Hammond said he forwarded the case to Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan to review.
The woman who owns the horses will likely be charged with animal neglect.
“There is no question (it’s a chargeable offense)” Hammond said. This certainly isn’t Ottawa County’s first run-in with abused or neglected horses. Four years ago, Oak Harbor resident Robin Vess dominated headlines when she was charged with 42 counts of animal cruelty. Vess, now 58, had deprived her Arabian horses of food and water. Some of the horses died of starvation and dehydration. Vess served less than two months in jail and was placed on probation for five years.