Group rescues severely neglected horses
By Josh O’Gorman
STAFF WRITER | January 28,2013
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Gina Brown of Spring Hill Horse Rescue in North Clarendon stands with a horse, Willie. The horse is being treated at the rescue facility.
CLARENDON — A local animal rescue group is seeking donations following what it calls “the worst case of neglect” it’s encountered in its 13-year history.
On Jan. 15, volunteers with Spring Hill Horse Rescue responded to a Shelburne residence following a call from the Humane Society of Chittenden County. Being one of the only groups in the state that is equipped to rescue large animals, Spring Hill’s founder Gina Brown and fellow volunteers responded to the scene.
“Of all the cases I’ve ever seen, this is the most shocking,” said Brown, who is also an officer with the Humane Society.
Brown encountered three horses: a stallion named Willie and a pair of mares named Dolly and Lolly, surrounded by the hair and bones of their dead herd mates. All three were standing upon a layer of manure several feet high, leaving them with their backs near the ceiling of their stalls with barely enough room to stand up straight.
“They were up there, looking down at us,” Brown said, gesturing toward the ceiling of the stalls at their new Spring Hill home on Middle Road, where Friday morning the three horses could look out without looking down.
Or, it should be said, where they could look out, if only they were able to see. Willie is blind and Lolly and Dolly show signs of impaired vision, likely stemming from their years of living in darkness.
Malnourished and neglected, Willie’s hooves had not been trimmed in years, curving out and so long— more than 1 foot — he could not walk. It took six volunteers to carry him into the horse trailer, Brown said.
“His hooves are the worst case of abuse and neglect we have ever seen,” Brown said.
The mares have had little contact with humans for many years and are terrified of people.
“You would not be able to put these horses outside. They’ve been institutionalized and wouldn’t know what to do with themselves,” Brown said. “They are unsocialized, which makes basic health care pretty much impossible.”
The case remains under investigation, but Brown expressed frustration that, in many cases of animal abuse and neglect, the wrongdoer doesn’t face any consequences.
“The problem in Vermont is that we have animal cruelty laws, but rarely do people get prosecuted. There’s nothing to keep these people from getting animals again,” she said, recalling a day in the summer of 2012 when she rescued horses from an owner for the second time.
Spring Hill Horse Rescue doesn’t receive state or federal aid and is funded completely through donations. To make a donation, go to www.springhillrescue.com.