MONROE, Mich. – Five horses at a Monroe County self-care barn, whose owners had stopped paying for board, were found starving, dehydrated and matted.
The barn's owners grew so concerned they called the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. Officers got a court order to get the animals removed.
Realize that the state of Michigan does not have a facility that can take large animals, which is why the sheriff's department called Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary for help.
The rescue group helped remove the animals to its Ann Arbor facility, but there was one that couldn't be saved. A pony was found dead, frozen in the barn.
"When you run your hands down their ribs you can feel the bones; there's nothing there. They've used all their reserves to just survive," said Tricia Terry, of Starry Skies.
While the animals' owners are charged with animal neglect and cruelty, Starry Skies will begin trying to get the animals in adoptable condition. It's going to take a while.
Each horse needs to gain at least 300 pounds, and throwing an unlimited supply of hay at them is not how that's accomplished -- it's a process.
The animals were quietly munching away at the hay, drinking warm water and enjoying their blankets when Local 4 News checked in on them. Terry said as soon as the animals put on weight, their listless demeanor will change and their personalities will emerge.