OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - More controversy is surrounding Horse World in Osceola County after animal services investigated a complaint about horses being mistreated at the attraction.
Loomes Wheeler, 71, owned Horse World before allegedly fleeing the country when sexual abuse charges were filed against him. But now that Wheeler is back in the country and being held at the Osceola County Jail, the attention has turned to the attraction's horses.
Employees at Horse World refused to talk to WFTV about the horse investigation, but animal services officers were just leaving when Channel 9's Jeff Deal arrived Monday morning.
The Horse World riding stables is a popular attraction in Osceola County, but Wheeler became the focus of the location after accusations surfaced in 2013 that he had previously molested a child there.
Investigators said Wheeler cut off his ankle monitor and fled to the Bahamas, where he was later captured.
Photos showing malnourished horses with serious hoof infections were sent the the Osceola County Sheriff's Office. The images appear to have been taken Friday morning.
"Are you guys mistreating horses here?" Deal asked.
"No we're not, sir," said an unidentified woman at Horse World.
The woman later called WFTV and claimed the photos showed old horses. County officials said the horses checked out Monday looked better than the ones pictured in the complaint. Investigators are trying to determine if they're the same horses and if they are under a veterinarian's care.
State records show Wheeler was removed as a Horse World company officer in 2013. It's believed he doesn't have much involvement in the business from behind bars.