Disturbing Case Of Animal Neglect In North Tulsa

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 5:45 pm
By: News On 6

Eight horses are being rehabbed at the Tulsa County Stockyards Wednesday after deputies discovered them starving in a north Tulsa field. The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage reports that as the horses were being loaded up, some of their owners were being taken into custody as well.

A bucket of feed is a welcome surprise for the horses, their hips protruding and their ribs easier to make out than they ever should be.

"But it appears as if they haven't been fed in quite a while, as if they're starving. This is one of the worst cases we've seen in a while," said Sgt. Willie Lewis of Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

"And I was like, yeah, you know, you need to feed them more. They need to be fed more," said horse owner Erica Alexander.

Alexander is just one of the people who keeps their horse on the north Tulsa field. Alexander says her husband has been feeding their horse, Honeycomb.

"Can't just be mean and just feed one, you know? You feed 'em all," said Alexander.

She says the number of horses grazing on this field has doubled since last year.

"He's been feeding all five horses, then all of a sudden he has to feed all ten horses, and you know, everybody's doing the best they can and I guess it's just not enough," she said.

Honeycomb is just one of the horses being confiscated. Eight are now in custody. A horse that belonged to one of Alexander's relatives was so weak and malnourished, it couldn't stand and had to be euthanized at the scene.

"It's one of the worst cases we've seen, not necessarily in severity, but in number, at least, this many in one place at one time,” said Lewis. “It's pretty tragic."

The sheriff's office says new state law holds owners responsible for animal neglect even if the horses are in someone else's care.

"They're obviously undernourished," said Veterinarian Dr. Chet Thomas.

Veterinarians say there's not enough grass in that field to support nine horses. Now those horses' owners could face felony animal cruelty charges.

Four men were taken into custody at the same time the horses were confiscated. Deputies say the saddest part is the folks who did come up to feed their horses not reporting how sick the others had gotten.