Thomasville Times Enterprise

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November 2, 2011

41 horses seized at Thomas County residence

THOMASVILLE — Some 41 horses, miniature ponies and colts were seized Tuesday afternoon at a Thomas County residence.

Warrants were issued Tuesday for an Incognito Lane couple, charging them with animal cruelty.

More charges are possible on Cecil Lewis Walker, 61, and Kathleen Walker, 58, 217 Incognito Lane.

Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell began receiving calls in early October about malnourished and mistreated horses at the Incognito Lane site.

A sheriff’s officer went to the location and reported that the animals were being kept in crowded conditions with no food.

“He said rib and hip bones were showing on many of the horses,” said Capt. Chuck McDonald, sheriff’s office patrol commander.

County government code enforcement and animal control personnel also responded, along with equine rescue individuals.

The owners of the animals told authorities they could not give the horses water, because they believed their well water was contaminated, McDonald said.

The Walkers offered no proof the water was contaminated, said Capt. Steven Jones, sheriff’s office public information officer.

The sheriff’s office began looking at the situation from a criminal standpoint.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, officers went to the residence to serve warrants on the Walkers. Family members told officers the Walkers are in North Carolina.

“They’re supposed to be moving, and they wanted to take the animals out of the state and into North Carolina,” McDonald explained.

To prevent the horses from being taken to North Carolina, a Thomas County judge on Tuesday allowed the sheriff’s office to take possession of the animals.

An equine rescue group will care for the horses. About 10 trailers owned by private citizens were on hand Tuesday to move the horses.

The court will decide whether the animals will be returned to the Walkers.

“There could be as many as 41 counts of animal cruelty per person,” McDonald said.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture responded to the situation. Pat Smith, Thomas County animal control director, responded about a month ago.

Smith was at the scene Tuesday afternoon assisting equine rescue personnel.

“We’ve been out there several times assisting with the horses and making sure they had food,” Smith said.

Ed Williams, Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society animal shelter executive director, said the Humane Society has supported the mission as much as possible in an animal control role.

Monetary donations are needed to fund food for the animals. Donations may be made to Dancing Cloud Farm Hose Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 6, Ochlocknee, Ga. 31773. For more information, call (229) 378-5088.

The sheriff said the horses had to be taken where they could be cared for properly.

“Until owners show ability to take care of them, it’s a really bad situation,” Powell explained.

The horses were being kept on less than three acres.

Bark on trees had been removed in a pattern about six feet above the ground. It is believed the horses ate the bark, Powell said.

“It was very obvious these horses are not taken care of the way horses should be,” the sheriff said.

No horse feces were found in early October when the horse situation was discovered, McDonald said.

It is believed the animals ate feces and dirt, as well as tree bark.

Some of the horses had injured tails, indicating the animals were eating tails of other horses.

“The Walkers were not trying to help themselves,” McDonald explained.

He said others offered to take the horses and restore their health.

The Walkers declined, the officer said.

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