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‘As bad as it gets before death’ Rescues take in horses from animal cruelty investigation

By Andrew James

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    RUTHERFORD COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — Local rescue organizations have taken in animals seized in an animal cruelty investigation in Rutherford County last week.

According to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, 23 horses, 17 goats and a sheep were all taken from Paws Ranch after a search warrant was executed Feb. 24. 63-year-old Delores Hanser is charged with 11 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, one count of improper burial and two counts of specific animal care requirements.

The Sanctuary at Bell Run is one animal rescue now taking care of five of the 23 horses seized. One of the horses, Zander, was treated for an infection and possible leg fracture Monday.

“This is long term neglect and that is what is so disheartening and concerning to those of us who love equines,” said Mary Adams, The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run founder.

Two other horses, Cowgirl and Pops, are also facing numerous medical issues. Adams said they are a body condition score of 1, meaning they are facing starvation. The horses also have rain rot.

“This is pretty much as bad as it gets before death,” she said.

For the time being, the horses removed from the Rutherford County farm are being quarantined because of the conditions they were living in.

“There’s a lot of unknowns as to what they could possibly be carrying that still might arise down the line, so you just have to be very careful and be very hygiene oriented,” said Joann Kelly, of Hasty’s Haven.

Re-feeding syndrome is one of the main concerns as these horses continue to recover.

“That is when you start feeding them again; their bodies cannot process the proteins and the nutrients they’re getting too quickly, and they can, if you feed them too quickly it can cause organ failure,” Adams said.

In less than a week, The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run has spent $2,500 on blood work alone. Adams said that is just the beginning of a long list of medical needs for the horses.

“We’re going to fix it, we’re going to do it, we’re going to depend on the community of people that love equines here,” she said.

The Sanctuary at Red Bell Run is taking donations for the needed medical care for the horses.

Donations are being taken by Rutherford County Animal Control.

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