Neglected horses increasingly found in California's Merced

Merced Sun-StarJuly 14, 2011 

Standing in a corral behind the Merced County Animal Shelter, Kristi Caseri watched three horses enjoy their breakfast.

Two of the horses looked like skeletons draped with skin. The third, a chestnut mare, looked better, but was still thin.

"We seized these horses last Friday," Caseri, animal control supervisor for the shelter, said. "The veterinarian said their body scores are ones and twos, out of a possible 10."

Unfortunately, skinny horses that aren't being taken care of or fed enough are becoming a common sight in the county. Between the bad economy and the high cost of feed, many horse owners are finding themselves unable to take care of an animal that can eat 20 pounds of feed a day.

The county has seized a number of horses in the past couple of months because of neglect, Caseri said. In May, 14 horses from the west side of the county were taken after a citizen complained about the horses not being fed. Those horses ranged in age from 6 months to 4 years.

"One of the horses we thought was a weanling ended up to be 2 years old; it was so stunted," Caseri said.

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