A week after animal welfare officials removed 74 horses from a Jessamine County, Ky., farm, the animals are gaining strength and acclimating to their new surroundings.
“When they first came off the trailer, they were listless,” said Kim Hurst, president of the Jessamine Humane Society, the group currently looking after the horses.
Officials seized the horses from Sharon Clagett and her husband, Argo Clagett, March 26 after animal welfare authorities investigated a claim that the horses were malnourished. Since then, Hurst said the horses have undergone extensive veterinary care for malnutrition and other ailments.
“They’re being treated for bite wounds, rain rot, and other things the vets say are related to a compromised immune system due to poor nutrition,” Hurst said.
Hurst said her agency is coping with the largest horse seizure in its history. Costs for the first week of care neared $15,000, she said. She estimates that long-term monthly care costs will be between $8,500 and $9,000.
“We’re a small group and it’s overwhelming,” she said. “But we’re making it happen.”
The herd, which the Clagetts still own, will remain in Jessamine Humane Society custody until a judge rules on the horses’ ownership.
“They’re evidence in the case,” Hurst said. “If the county releases the evidence, they could go back to their owners.”
According to Jessamine County Sheriff Kevin Corman, Sharon and Argo Clagett have each been charged with 70 counts of misdemeanor second-degree animal cruelty. Each count carries penalties of up to $500 in fines and up to 12 months in jail. The couple is slated to appear in Jessamine District Court on April 23 to answer the charges.
Sharon Clagett declined to discuss the case on the advice of her attorney.