Horses rescued from horse rescue group

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Animal services officials in Marion County said they had to rescue eight horses from a horse rescue organization.

Some of the horses were more than 400 pounds underweight, official said.

"The condition of some of these horses was some of the worst that they've seen," said Elaine Deloria McClain, Marion County representative.

Marion County Animal Control officers said they rescued the horses from a non-profit horse rescue facility in Dunnellon.

"The land that was available for grazing was not sufficient. There was mostly weeds and sand at one of the locations, and just short brown grass at the other location," said McClain.

The rescue facility is called Guardian Angels. 

WFTV reporter Berndt Petersen didn't find anybody at the group's pasture along 140th Avenue.

A phone call to the organization went to voice mail. 

Animal services officials said after receiving a complaint they seized the horses.

One of the horses was so far gone she had to be euthanized, officials said.

The rest are now being cared for on county-owned land in Ocala. 

Some of the horses appear to be little more than skin and bones. 

Officials said nearly all of the horses have a condition called rain rot. The horses have been left out in the elements, are never bathed, never brushed and their coat deteriorates, which can lead to open sores.

But they now have plenty to eat and are on the mend. 

Officials said the county will ask a judge for legal custody of the horses so they can be put up for adoption, and animal services will turn its evidence over to the state attorney for possible criminal charges of animal cruelty.

For the moment, on nutritionist's orders, the horses are only allowed to eat grass. But they will soon be fed grain. They will also need dental work and other veterinary care. 

Marion County Animal Services would happily welcome any help to care for the horses. To help out you can call 352-671-8400 or email animalservices@marioncountyfl.org