County Finds Homes for Abused Horses
The record-breaking animal abuse case that became public here in May now has a happy ending.
Eighteen of the 19 horses confiscated at a horse farm near Cameron have been placed in good homes, according to Frank Ringelberg, lead animal control officer in the case.
The only sad part of the story is the death of the 19th horse. Ringelberg says one horse was in such poor condition that it died of liver failure. Disposition of the other animals, including cows and llamas, is still in negotiation.
"None of this could have happened without the help from friends and public support," Ringelberg said of the success story.
Ringelberg said Moore County Animal Control was able to care for the abused animals and find homes for them because of an outpouring of love and generosity from the community and also from animal lovers in other parts of the state. He cites veterinarians, businesses, 4-H Club members, a farrier, and innumerable families and individuals who helped in remarkable ways.
"During the last nine weeks, I met a lot of new people and became friends with most of them, and most of them are now on my speed dial," Ringelberg said.
Ringelberg said he would not have been able to arrange care for the animals in such a professional manner had it not been for the many men, women and young people who pitched in and helped.
"Even though I call myself a dog lover, each horse found a place in my heart," Ringelberg said. "I learned the needs of horses, how to handle them, their individual personalities, and I found out all they needed was just some love, time and a lot of good food. I will miss the time on the farm."
The news broke, breaking hearts at the same time, in May when animal control officers closed in on the Billy Campbell horse farm near Cameron. They confiscated 30 animals, including the 19 horses and a variety of other animals that were starving and ailing because of lack of medical attention and day-to-day nutritional care. It was called the largest such animal abuse case in Moore County history.
In recent weeks, an attorney for Campbell and County Attorney Misty Leland negotiated a settlement through Moore County Civil Court in which Campbell agreed to pay the county $10,000 as compensation for the cost of caring for the horses since the raid on the farm. Criminal charges are still pending against Campbell.
The court's action cleared the way for Animal Control to make the horses available for adoption.
Once the court ruling became official July 10, the county was able to assume ownership of the 18 remaining horses, and it took about five days for them to be, as Ringelberg puts it, "adopted out to new homes where they will be cared for and loved for the remaining time of their lives in this cruel world."
By "high noon" that Saturday, all 18 horses had been picked up.
"Some of the horses will be riding with their new owners on trails in our Moore County," Ringelberg said. "Others will be just loved and well cared for and will just enjoy life on green pastures and clean dry stalls."
Many Hurdles to Clear
Animal Control officers faced their second major hurdle as soon as they took possession of the animals, many of which were skinny, their ribs jutting from their flanks, and had signs of untreated hoof disease, along with other ailments.
Their next dilemma was providing transportation and suitable places to board 19 ailing horses and other domestic animals.
Ringelberg said he doesn't know what the county would have done if horse people had not donated time and trailers "to transport the poor animals to a safe haven." He mentioned, in particular, the Seitz, Banfield and McNulty families, among others, "who got sweaty and muddy" carrying out this good deed.
The horses needed immediate veterinary attention. Dr. P. Woods of Dogwood Equine Clinic became the lead veterinarian attending to the medical needs of the animals, and Ringelberg says Woods spent many of his days off taking care of the horses.
"Dr. E. Taws helped the day of the seizure and performed a stunning laser eye surgery on One-Eye Jack," Ringelberg said.
Dr. J. Watson of Pinetree Animal Hospital, who is also the county's cruelty investigator, helped out, as did Dr. Tom Daniel, of Southern Pines Equine, and his staff at the roundup, along with the staff of Carolina Equine Clinic, which helped to find donations and supporters.
Farrier Nick Young attended to the horses' hooves, which had been neglected for a long time.
"Now all the horses can walk to reach food without any pain," Ringelberg said.
Ringelberg expressed appreciation to J. Barnes for leasing stalls and pasture to house the 19 horses at one place and to J.B. Richardson for housing the cows and llamas. Richardson hand-fed one small calf until it was able to eat by itself.
'Make This Happen'
The biggest thanks go to the host of volunteers who helped to care for the animals daily, according to Ringelberg. That included cleaning the stalls as well as feeding them.
The Forster family, the Howie family and the McNulty family were out there every day rain or shine, spending hours of sweat and tears for nine long weeks. They cried when we lost one horse but never complained," Ringelberg said.
Also helping were 4-H Club girls and their mothers who spent time bathing, brushing and socializing the animals and a number of other individuals who volunteered for this service, which Ringelberg says helped by enabling the safe handling of the horses.
Not forgotten are the individuals and businesses that donated food and other supplies. Within one hour after the word got out, J.R. Sales of Vass was providing help. Eddie Raper of Wilson Milling in Wilson made the first big donation of food and other supplies, as did Aberdeen Supply and Purina Food Company.
One woman whom Ringelberg said he cannot identify "really pushed the envelope when she not only donated 100 bales of hay but also undersigned needed surgery to ensure that an already one-eyed horse doesn't go blind for the rest of his days."
Ringelberg even expressed thanks to The Pilot and to WRAL-TV for what he calls reporting the case fairly.
And he summed up his gratitude for everyone who helped out with these words: "I personally appreciate all of you involved in this case for your help and trust in Animal Control to make sure Moore County is a safe haven for all animals, small or big, and a bad place to live for people who abuse or neglect animals. With the support of Moore County citizens, we can make this happen."
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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