Equine Rescue

Inside Texas horse “nightmare” after massive animal seizure

Source: Houston’s ABC Channel 13 News

“We’re hoping today is the day life changes for them.”

Click image to view video

Click image to view video


Husband-and-wife farm owners Herman and Kathleen Hoffman are each charged with three counts of animal cruelty. They were arrested late last night and bonded out jail today. However, even though they bonded out of jail, they are not permitted back on the property. Officers will be at the farm around-the-clock to make sure they don’t try to take any of the horses or tamper with evidence.

Houston SPCA on the scene today removed horses in the worst condition and fed the rest mounds of hay. The horses Eyewitness News saw fed for hours.

Houston SPCA says they hope this will be the start of a new life for these animals.

Horses are starved to death in some cases. Flies swarmed around some of the animals’ open wounds. President of the Houston SPCA Patricia Mercer told Eyewitness News, “When you get to a point when you don’t have any muscle mass left, it’s really hard to stand.”

“We have over 200 horses and we are going to be doing blood work, diagnostics on these horses, farrier work,” Mercer continued. “Horses should have their feet trimmed every six weeks. Many of these horses it’s likely that they’ve never had their feet trimmed. They’re in very bad condition.”

Montgomery County Attorney JD Lambright said, “There is evidence of bones on the acreage out here, but just from that alone, that really don’t tell you anything, so that investigation will be ongoing.”

Lambright said earlier in the day, “The logistics – just, you can imagine the nightmare involved of getting this many horses in this condition off the premises and getting them some place for care…(they) will be taken to a medical care at the (Houston SPCA) facility.”

Mercer also told Eyewitness News her team is collecting evidence for the county attorney’s office and the district attorney’s office in anticipation of a custody hearing on Tuesday.

“We have a huge job ahead of us,” she continued. “It’s unusual to do a seizure on site, but because of the sheer number of horses involved, we’ve elected to take the most critical horses back to the Houston SPCA — all of these horses need care, all of these horses are in need of veterinary care and so we’ll be providing care on site here…but we’ll be taking about two dozen of them.”

Asked what she’s seeing at the farm, Mercer said, “(The horses are) in varying stages of neglect. Horses are very expensive to care for. We see a lot of hoof issues with these animals. Certainly some emaciation, poor nutrition issues and it’s really hard to pinpoint at this point. We’re doing cursory examinations….We have horses with a lot of health issues.”

Mercer added, “We’re hoping today is the day life changes for them.”

Mercer said she hopes Houston will step up to help with the care of these animals.

To help the Houston SPCA, go to their website.

6 replies »

  1. NOT the fault of the innocent horses and yet they are the ones who have unnecessarily suffered. Thank goodness somebody made this atrocity known and that they are getting some care now.


  2. I hope that this couple of animal abusers actually gets charged with more than misdemeanors! This was not by any means something that happened overnight – these people sat back & allowed it to happen. Horses that haven’t EVER had their feet trimmed – horses that died & were just left – simply NOT feeding?? How is this different from any other kind of physical abuse? These people need to be punished. The thing I don’t understand is why did the employees take so long to come forward? I’m really glad they did – but why not earlier on?
    I know its really easy to sit back & accuse, but really – how many years had this been going on?


  3. The scale is terrible. Its a burden but these types of issues need resolved. THIS IS A BACKYARD BREEDER. Before pro horse slaughter twisted the true definition this WAS the definition. Knowing horses are NOT receiving proper healthcare and STILL BREEDING. Backyard breeding isnt about poor confirmation or really just animal husbandry its based on several protocols to budget premium healthcare..premium feeds and breeding ONLY the best horses on a small scale effectively. In this case its the PERFECT example of pro horse slaughter backyard breeders. These people dont care enough about their own health to bury properly the dead. They dont care about the horses health to bury dead or even separate the ill and infirmed…let alone give a damn about feed or hooves. So when I see this I still see images of Roodhouse Illinois Horrors. I cannot remove it from my head then you have these people….. If you hire people and they do NOT take care of your animals YOUR SUPPOSED TO FIRE THEM AND DO IT YOURSELF. Never trust lives to anyone if there are dead and dying. Ask professionals for help. To allow the horses to have even one foal under these conditions is INHUMANE AS HORSE SLAUGHTER. To bring a tiny life in these conditions knowing you refused to control…train…handle…manage…and provide feed and water is a charge all to itself. We are NOT living in the dark ages. We all understand struggles. This isnt a struggle…..these horses died knowingly. It makes me wonder why if horses died while people were working did no one report it earlier? We are supposed to be pro active. We have to stop the compilation of animals abused. Reduce the numbers through education…emergency advice and help. These two really believe they didnt do anything wrong? Have them pick up the bodies and put them in a rendering truck and see if their feelings on the subject change. Sorry…but people cause trauma then get out of the responsibility.


  4. We could take a good look at the laws in Switzerland to prevent further such tragedies:

    The law also requires that horses receive copious amounts of forage, as determined by scientists. And if you want to own more than five horses, you must attend five hours of equine husbandry classes (that you pay for out of your own pocket) organized by the National Stud and other organizations and earn a certificate. If you want to own more than 11 horses, you’ll need to sign up for a 40-hour class plus an internship.





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