The Menominee County Sheriff Department is getting more complaints about emaciated horses. So far this year, they've handled about half a dozen cases, but officials say this extreme negligence is very preventable.
Michigan legislature defines "neglect" as failing to sufficiently and properly care for an animal to the extent that the animal's health is jeopardized.
Some of these neglected horses are now at a shelter, and one of them is even recovering from a gunshot wound.
It's a long road to recovery for the four horses at Piper's Place in Wallace. All four were emaciated, but the two Clydesdales had the worst injuries; both were covered in maggots. One had a gunshot wound the owner couldn't explain, and another had a puncture on the back leg.
But Animal Control Officer, Troy Rivard, said law enforcement's goal is to educate.
I don't think it's a goal of the Menominee County Sheriff Department or myself to give a ticket to anyone who has horses or other animals that TMre in need of care, explains Rivard. The part primarily for us is to educate them and get them resources to allow their animals to be healthy. We also want them to learn to be good pet owners."
Most of the time, these cases are misdemeanors--the owners get probation, fines, and have to pay restitution.
While some owners have malicious intent, Sheriff Kenny Marks said others take in these animals with good intentions.
But these individuals lack the resources to care for them.
I would like to get the word out to other animal owners, said Sheriff Marks. I want them to know how important it is to rely on the expertise of others to help you raise, train, feed, and care for your animals."
Police say owners who are unable to care for their horses should contact Animal Control, local law enforcement, and shelters, like Piper's Place.
We want people to come, feel safe and comfortable of a place to bring their animals, said Piper TMs Place Director, Carrie Cramer. And we want this to also be a place to help them to learn how to properly care for animals and offer them a better home."
The goal of the no-kill shelter is to help these horses recover and find new homes in the future.
As for the two Clydesdales, there is good news. Adoptions are pending for both of them.
Sheriff Marks said some of the cases of extreme negligence he's seen can be called animal cruelty.
The number one thing he wants owners to know is not to be afraid to ask for help.