Malnourished horses neglected during bad economy in Fresno area

FRESNO -- A herd of starving and dead horses has turned up on a farm near Riverdale, the second time last week in Fresno County that malnourished horses were seized, the sheriff's office reported.

This year has been the worst in more than 20 years for the Central California Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in caring for malnourished and abused horses, said Beth Caffrey, humane education administrator.

The SPCA has taken charge of several hundred horses this year, she said. The reasons: cost and the ailing economy, she said. To feed one horse costs $60 to $70 per day, she said. If a horse has special dietary needs, feed can cost $100 daily.

"The sad thing that happens in a bad economy is the veterinary care stops," she said. "Then comes feeding and foot problems."

Earlier this year when horses were removed from a Fresno-area farm, the dental work alone cost the SPCA about $2,000 for just a few horses, she said.

Friday at the Riverdale farm, 14 horses were found hungry and dehydrated, and two had to be euthanized, Caffrey said.

One euthanized horse had a broken ankle that had been untreated, and a second was euthanized because of severe malnutrition. Four horse carcasses were discovered on the property when the SPCA arrived.

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