It's going to be a long road to recovery for Moon and Indigo, two horses who were starved so badly that their rib cages are visible and their hip bones are protruding from underneath their skin.
The pair was rescued from a Hancock residence last week and brought to recover at the Eden Farm Animal Sanctuary in Aura. It isn't their first time living with the sanctuary's founder, Kristen Hill. Hill first rescued the horses in 2007, but after they got better, they were adopted to a woman who eventually gave them to the couple charged with their abuse.
The sheriff's office has now restored full-ownership to Hill who says she won't let them go again.
"Once I got them home, I gave them a good look-over," says Hill. "My heart's broken, but I TMm relieved at the same time that they're home and will be healed again."
Monday morning, 27-year-old Tara Lynn Ahonen and 36-year-old John Patrick Beaudoin were arraigned in Houghton County District Court. Both pled not guilty to the misdemeanor charge of animal abandonment and cruelty.
After court, the couple said they were shocked by the charges. They admitted they didn't know much about raising horses, but they thought they were helping out when they took the animals in last fall.
But Hill doesn't buy it. In addition to starvation, both horses are suffering from worms and cracked hooves. And Indigo has fractured bones below his right eye.
"It takes a long time to get a horse into a condition like this," Hill says. "I think they were starved for a long period of time."
Hill says the horses are already more relaxed and their health should continue to improve over the next few months.
As for Ahonen and Beaudoin, they'll both be back in court for a pretrial hearing on July 26. If convicted they face up to a year in jail.