BOWNSFORK—A Perry County man is facing animal cruelty charges in what some local authorities have called one of the worst cases of animal cruelty they have ever seen.
Deputies with the Perry County Sheriff’s Office were called out Tuesday morning last week to the scene of what would prove to be some of the last moments for a horse so malnourished it could not even stand up on its own.
“It was found on a strip job up in Brownsfork,” explained Dr. William Hagans, a veterinarian at the Appalachian Animal Hospital who was called to the scene once the horse was found. “From my understanding, one of the local citizens up there had tried to get this horse for probably a week plus and the owner of the horse wouldn’t let him have him.”
Hagans went on to say that the citizen later found that the horse had been let out at a strip job, where other horses were being taken care of at the time.
“It (the horse) got down, and once it got down he called us up there to come and take care of it,” Hagans said.
The horse, when authorities arrived, was laying on its side, Hagans said, and was unable to move around or even get up off of the ground.
“It was very weak and couldn’t stand. It was very emaciated and had multiple sores on its side from whee it had tried to get up,” he said.
Hagans explained that while the horse was likely not starved, it had definitely not been feed the proper amount that a horse needs to sustain itself in months, adding that it had zero body fat and had even lost some muscle mass.
“At that point, I made the assessment that it needed to be euthanized, based on its condition,” Hagans said.
Deputies charged Paul Melton with one count second-degree animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, which requires at least $500 citation and could lead to jail time.
WYMT reported that Melton allegedly was trying to get the horse back into good health since he had got him in poor condition to begin with.
Hagans said though this was a tragic and avoidable case, he hoped that at least one good thing could come of it—that those in the same situation as Melton can know that there are options for help out there.
“The reason we want to get the message out there is that there are resources out there to get help—they don’t have to let them (the animals) sit in pens for months and not get treatment,” Hagans said. “When treatment’s offered to you, you should take that opportunity to release the horse, or dog, or cat, or whatever the situation may be. There’s resources out there to get them help. You don’t have to let them get to that condition before you do it.”
Hagans said the first thing anyone in a situation such as this should do is call their local animal shelter to see if there are any shelters or rescues immediately available to take the animal to care for it. If the shelter cannot find a rescue immediately, he added, that does not mean it will not continue to search until help for that animal is found.
“The wrong thing to do is taking it up there and leaving it for nature to take its course, knowing that it’s in bad condition. That’s where the biggest issue for me comes in,” Hagans said. “Most of the time, if people … take responsibility for it, the usually don’t get in trouble, but if you wait and we have to have somebody call on you multiple times, then it becomes an issue.”
Hagans said if anyone suspects animal abuse they should contact their local law enforcement immediately.
Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.