WATER VALLEY, Miss. (WTVA) — Yalobusha County officials are rehabilitating dozens of malnourished horses that were found two weeks ago in a pasture.
It's something Hope Animal Sanctuary Director Doll Stanley said she'll never forget.
"You never get used to suffering," Stanley said. "If you do, there's something wrong with you."
Hope Animal Sanctuary is operated by international animal protection organization, In Defense of Animals.
It was two weeks ago that Stanley and other Yalobusha County officials received the call.
"It was late at night," Stanley added. "It was very cold out."
It's the same call she's received numerous times throughout her career, but something that never becomes routine.
"That poor horse, lying there dying, struggling to get up," she explained. "It's maddening."
When arriving on scene, they found dozens of horses malnourished and starved, many on the brink of death.
"We know for sure there are five carcasses on the property," Stanley said. "Two are skeletal, and the other three are actually still carcasses."
17 of the 26 horses remain in the pasture, each needing to gain hundreds of pounds in order to reach maximum health.
Since finding the horses, Stanley and other workers, including officials from the county, have gathered materials for the animals, such as hay and water.
So far, they've spent over $400 on hay alone.
"This is a huge undertaking," Stanley said. "It takes a lot of money to take care of horses."
She estimates it will cost more than $15,000 to fully rehabilitate the horses.
"There are just so many facets," she said.
Officials believe the owner is from a different state, and while a caretaker has been hired, Stanley said it's clear the horses are neglected.
She said someone attempted to conceal the bodies from the public.
"Two of the horses died in one spot, and we know they were dragged to another location," she explained.
Stanley said prosecution will be considered, but their main goal is to gain custody to protect the animals.
"Shame on you if you get an animal in ignorance and you don't find out what it needs," she said. "There is no excuse for that."
IDA doesn't have enough supplies or funds to care for all of the horses' needs until their health increases.
Since other regional rescues are experiencing similar issues, the organization is seeking a pasture with shelter and good fencing that can safely hold the 17 horses for three to six months.
If custody of the horses is granted to IDA, they will help them regain their health and will work with them to insure they're adopted.
If you would like to donate, visit IDAUSA.org
or call the Yalobusha County Sheriff's Department for further assistance.