In April, The Pegasus Project was contacted by the Wood County Sheriff’s Department about a terribly malnourished Appaloosa yearling with a severely necrotic, untreated wound on the right side of her face. We instructed them to transport the filly to a veterinarian for evaluation. Despite the vet’s best efforts, the yearling (who we named Phoenix) died from malnutrition, parasite overload, and the untreated facial injury.
In the course of our joint investigation with law enforcement, we learned that Phoenix came from a large herd of about twenty abandoned equine. In addition to Phoenix, at least four other horses had died on the property. The owner had moved away two years prior, leaving a herd of female horses and miniature donkeys with a stallion and a miniature jack donkey to breed at will. Three of the dead horses were less than a year old. Many members of the herd had been born since the abandonment, and therefore had never been touched by a human or received any medical care whatsoever. Evidence indicates that the horses were dying from parasite overload and untreated injuries.
At a hearing on April 14, the court found the owner cruelly treated Phoenix and assessed civil penalties. In addition, six counts of criminal animal cruelty charges are pending. Since Wood County has no equine holding facility and no resources for an animal seizure of this size, the court awarded the entire remaining herd of fourteen to The Pegasus Project, thereby straining both our resources and our sanity to the brink! But, when we saw a pasture scattered with the bones of dead horses and abandoned horses with severe injuries, newborn foals, and more babies on the way, we could not turn away. We saved all of these animals from certain death and we haven’t looked back.
Since our rescue of this herd, two baby donkeys have been born and are thriving, and all six of the miniature donkeys have been adopted into loving homes. From the Phoenix Herd, we are left with 8 horses and a mule, two of whom are babies and all of whom are younger than 5 years old. They will remain in rehabilitation and training at the Pegasus ranch, along with 30 more rescues, for as long as is necessary to prepare them for adoption into lifelong homes. We are providing updates regarding the Phoenix Herd in our e-newsletter, which is published monthly.
By Allyson Perkins DeCanio