Over 20 horses have been rescued from an illegal slaughtering farm in South Florida by a local rescue operation.
According to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, a complaint saying a horse was quote “in distress” and couldn’t get up as well as buzzards and horse bones scattered across the ground had led to deputies investigating the property owned by the suspect Manuel Coto.
There they found 24 horses, one of which was the horse that led to the initial complaint which had to be euthanized on-site.
All of the horses were malnourished and showed signs of having some type of parasite.
After being cared for by the deputies for over a month, they were signed over to Horses Without Humans in Bell.
They say that while they are happy and ready to take these horses in, their work is far from over.
“Our process here is going to be pretty big because we’ve got to separate them one at a time, and get a hand on them, try to get them haltered…so we can have a safe and happy place,” said Yvonne Barteau, the founder of Horses Without Humans. “So the work is really just starting here.”
Barteau says that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are short on volunteers that they’ll need to get these horses back to full health.
“We’re probably going to need an average of one to two volunteers per horse to get this working out and to get these horses socialized,” Barteau explained. “We don’t mind if the volunteers don’t come near us, they just have to be willing to come and be around a horse or help in feeding, caring, and helping the horses get used to being around people and that they bring food…and that people can talk to them and pet them. So we’re hoping that volunteers pick-up a bit.”
While the investigation is ongoing, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office says they will “continue to pursue charges and proceedings against the person(s) responsible for this abuse.”