Santa comes early for neglected horses

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 4, 2009

Abused animals are getting an early visit from Santa.

The Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society asked for — and is receiving — a corral for horses and other livestock seized because of owner abuse or neglect.

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Make checks payable to the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society and mail to P.O. Box 820171, Vicksburg, 39182. Donations are tax-deductible.

Cherokee, a 4-year-old mare found in February tied behind an abandoned mobile home, will be one of the first animals to benefit. Humane Society President Georgia Lynn has been nursing the horse back to health since discovering her, injured and nearly starved.

“Everywhere I go, people don’t say, ‘How’s the horse?’” Lynn said. “They say, ‘How’s Cherokee?’ or ‘How’s Miss Cherokee?’”

Donations for the horse have gone into the general fund and will help pay for the $3,000 fence.

The agency has seized about 40 horses since Lynn came on the board in 2002, she said, including four taken in on Nov. 12. “I could have done 100,” she said, “but you have to work with what you’ve got.”

Thursday, fence posts were set at the VWHS in the large field between the main building and U.S. 61 South. Fence railings are scheduled to be added Monday.

Within the next few weeks the agency will add a small barn to provide necessary shelter. Cost estimates on the barn have not come in, but at least part of the labor is expected to be donated, she said.

“Especially this year we’ve gotten more and more calls,” Lynn said, blaming the economy. “We get complaints that people are letting their horses out to roam, horses are getting out of broken fences, starving horses in poor condition — it’s been ongoing.”

Two of the most recent horses VWHS seized are “severely emaciated,” she said. The other two are also underfed, and one’s eye had been gouged out by something, probably debris, said Lynn.

In 2008 VWHS built 13 new kennels, primarily for dogs, after existing kennels were damaged in a storm. Two are large enough for and have housed horses on an emergency basis, but Lynn currently boards Cherokee and the other horses at private stables.

She’s found herself scrambling, however, to find temporary quarters for livestock in the days and weeks immediately following seizure. Private stables cannot take them until the animals have been tested and treated, if necessary, for parasites and disease. “The hardest part about seizing a horse is finding a place to keep it until tests come back,” Lynn said.

That will now change.

The corral will also house Cherokee and animals like her — injured and in need of long-term, daily, intensive care — instead of Lynn’s having to drive to stables, sometimes miles apart in the county. “Doing it here will be much more efficient and a much better use of my time,” she said.

Cherokee, the first horse seized by VWHS to have an injury in addition to malnutrition, captured the hearts of many Warren County animal lovers when they read about her, Lynn said.

In addition to being starved, the horse had been whipped and beaten, and her tongue split, probably from being jerked roughly with a bit in her mouth. She was so fearful, she was not a good candidate for a normal home, with people who wanted to ride her, Lynn said.

Instead, Cherokee has been approved for a permanent home at the 1,300-acre Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, a place called heaven on earth for formerly abused animals.

Founded in 1979 by writer Cleveland Amory, the ranch is a sanctuary for horses, cattle, bison, antelopes, apes, camels, llamas and other animals, its Web site states.

Cherokee has gained more than 400 pounds on her way back to health and will be moved to Black Beauty Ranch in the spring.

Meanwhile, the new paddock and barn will allow Lynn to continue to care for Cherokee’s leg wound, which is healing slowly, and to feed and groom her on site.

Though she’s happy to be getting the corral and barn, Lynn is not ready yet to throw away Santa’s address.

“We desperately need more land here for livestock,” she said.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at