Southern Utah officers rescue horses from freezing conditions

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CEDAR CITY -- An Enoch City man faces animal cruelty charges after officers rescued two horses from freezing conditions. Animal control officers say it’s one of the worst cases they’ve seen.

Officers received the call Thursday afternoon, and found the 1-year-old horse on its side, stuck to the frozen ground. Her mother, just as malnourished was nearby. Animal Control officer Chris Johnson said it was one of the worst cases she’s seen.

“The mud around her head was starting to melt a little bit,” Johnson said. “So basically half of her face was covered in mud.”

Rescuers had to pry the young horse from the ground and carry her to a trailer. Veterinarians use a 10-point scale to describe the animals’ malnourishment -- both the mother and the young horse scored a one.

“She couldn’t lift her head up,” Johnson said. “She was kicking her legs quite a bit like she was trying to get away or stand up, get out of that situation, but she basically couldn’t move.”

Animal control took the horses to Dust Devil Ranch Horse Sanctuary in Cedar City for recovery. Founder Ginger Grimes said the young horse needs 24-hour care and spent the first two nights with her.

“She wants to live,” Grimes said.” If she didn’t have that want, she probably wouldn’t be here.”

Grimes said the young horse, which they’ve affectionately called Elsa, has made significant recovery, but admits things could change quickly. Elsa is still very underweight, and has damage to her eye from being frozen in the ground.

“We just keep putting the blankets back on her, keep her warm,” Grimes said. “We have to physically sit her up, where she can get up like she’s on her side, with her legs tucked under her to eat and to drink.”

The mother, whom they call Anna, is in better condition and frequent visits lift the yearling’s spirits. The two were the only livestock at the property and officials say it appears to be an extreme case of animal neglect.

“Starved to the point where she just lost all of her strength and just laid down and at that point,” Johnson said. “[Elsa] didn’t have the strength to get up.”

The investigation is ongoing, but Johnson said they do plan to charge the owner of those horses with two counts of animal neglect.

Dust Devil Ranch updates the condition of the two horses on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dust-Devil-Ranch-Sanctuary-for-Horses/339164949499108

More information on the work the non-profit does can be found on the group’s website, http://www.dustdevilranch.org

36 comments

  • Bettina

    The horse Elsa is now fighting for her life. Her condition is critical after what seemed an early recovery. If she dies, the man who did this to her is a murderer and if anyone knows his name, please post it here.

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