Four horses found starving get adopted ‘

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

Minette Cupstid scratches the neck of her newly adopted Belgian filly Gin while her adopted mare Belle looks on Wednesday, in a pasture near her home in Port Gibson. (Meredith Spencer  The Vicksburg Post)

[7/31/04]Horses taken into county custody after they were found starving have been placed in permanent homes, the Humane Society president said.

Four starving horses were taken from property off Bovina Cut-Off Road May 5 and were placed in Humane Society custody. Three of the horses, two mares and a 3-day-old filly, were mares of the Belgian breed, which is classified as a draft horse, the same as Clydesdales.

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The last of them was adopted a week ago, said Warren County Humane Society president Georgia Lynn.

One of the Belgian mares and its filly were adopted by Minette Cupstid of Port Gibson. The other was adopted by Scotty Beach of Redbone Road and the non-Belgian horse was adopted by a Starkville woman who learned about the horses while visiting family in the area, Lynn said.

“She is the sweetest horse I have ever been around,” Cupstid said of the mare she adopted. “They are gentle giants.”

County authorities were alerted by area residents to the presence of malnourished horses there, Sheriff Martin Pace said.

The Belgians’ owner, Stacey Ashley Blood, lives in Warren County but not near where the horses were captured, Lynn has said. She and the owner of the Bovina Cut-Off Road property had agreed that the horses could be kept there but that the owner of the horses, not the owner of the pasture, would be responsible for the horses’ care, Lynn has said.

Blood did not claim ownership of the non-Belgian horse, Lynn has said.

The horses were able to graze in a pasture, but sufficient food had not been made available to them when they were captured, Lynn said.

Deputies and Humane Society staff captured the horses. Then the county brought a civil action in Warren County Justice Court, asserting that the horses had been neglected, abandoned or cruelly treated. Blood protested the seizure of the Belgians.

About 10 witnesses testified May 14 before Judge Eddie Woods. Woods found in favor of the county.

The horses were placed in a temporary home on the property of Randy Boler off Standard Hill Road, Lynn said. In the nine days after the county took custody, each of the Belgians gained about 100 pounds, Lynn said testimony at the hearing indicated.

Also at the hearing, Blood said she had bought the horses at a sale barn in another county in Mississippi and that they had previously been used in Canada where pregnant mares’ urine is gathered as a raw material for producing women’s hormone-replacement-therapy drugs, Lynn said.

A large producer of such drugs, Wyeth, which sells them under brand names including Premarin and PremPro, announced major cuts in the production of the drugs in October 2003 after gaining “a better understanding of the risks of long-term HRT,” the company’s Web site said.

The cuts resulted in “job losses” to more than 20,000 horses, most of them pregnant, an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals publication said. At least 7,000 of the horses were brought to the United States, the publication added.

The mare Cupstid adopted remains underweight, as she has been nursing her foal, Lynn said.

“They’re still not where they need to be,” Cupstid said.

Cupstid grew up around horses and showed them as a member of the 4-H Club in school, but has not owned a horse in seven years, she said. She and her husband had shelter and fencing built to give their new horses a home.

Cupstid wanted a horse she could ride, but said she’s not sure if the mare she adopted has ever been ridden and that the size of the horse would require a custom-made saddle.

“She’s going to end up being a big dog,” Cupstid said of the mare.

The Belgian mare Beach adopted was originally reported as having been nearly ready to foal. That report was not confirmed, and the mare has not given birth since she was taken into custody, Lynn said.