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2016-07-21

Starving horses reported in Tarpley

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

For several weeks, the Courier has fielded questions from irate callers regarding what was being done about “starving horses” in a field in Tarpley. The location was on the right side of the FM 470, just past Indian Creek.
When queried about the horses, a representative from the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office said that an investigation was ongoing. Unsatisfied with the answer, one concerned caller noted, “They’re going to ‘investigate’ until those horses are dead.”
Another caller reported that the horses’ trough had been filled by copious rainwater in May, but has since been covered with green slime. However, Rick Neely, who serves as senior animal control officer for the sheriff’s office, said that the animals had access to water on the “backside of the property.”
Several callers insisted that the animals were not being fed, and were attempting to graze on wildflowers. However, according to BCSO Chief Deputy Matt King, “Neighbors told investigating deputies that someone feeds and waters the horses every night.”
According to King, there were five horses on the property – “three belonged to the family and two had been rescued from Houston.” King noted that the family did not live on the Tarpley property and that the two rescued equines had been described as in “poor shape.”
On Monday, July 18, King said the rescued horses had been transported to the Bandera Veterinary Clinic where Jennifer Knight, DVM had examined them.
According to the veterinary report, King said, one of the horses, a 35-year-old mare, is unlikely to regain full health. “Horses that old continue to deteriorate and become emaciated,” King added. However, he noted, with proper veterinary care and feeding, another horse, estimated to be just 4 to 5 years old, will likely recover.
“The (rescued) horses have been put on meal and medical plans that included worming and will be re-examined in six weeks,” King said.
The rescued horses were not returned to Tarpley, but King opined they might have been transported to a property on Bottle Springs Road; however, he was unsure of their final destination.
Citing confidentiality, Knight could not give out information about the horses’ condition without obtaining permission from their owner.
Regarding the three personal family horses that are still in Tarpley, Stephen Sells, DVM, will assess their condition, according to King.
Concern about the horses’ recalled a similar incident in Tarpley in 2014 that ended with four donkeys dead and 21 rescued from a property in the 12,000 block of FM 470. At that time, however, a complaint was filed on Feb. 20 and the remaining donkeys – two of which subsequently died – were seized on Feb. 22. The quick action came as a result of “exigent circumstances” when deputies observed donkey carcasses scattered about the property.
Subsequently, the remaining donkeys were transported to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in San Angelo. The owner paid $5,640 for their care, treatment and transportation costs. Because the owner relinquished the donkeys to the county, criminal charges were not filed against her, King said at the time.
When apprised of the actions of BCSO with regard to the horses’ safety and welfare, one cynic noted, “I hope this turns out okay for the poor horses, and I’m glad something was done for them. But, you know the old adage, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.”