Horse, dogs euthanized

Published 3:59 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

Community Editor

A horse and two dogs seized from a farm near Aurora have been euthanized, according to Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill.
Beaufort County Animal Control seized 16 other horses and four other dogs from the farm on Vinegar Hill Road. The horse and two dogs were euthanized at the advice of a veterinarian who visited the farm. Sixteen dogs were surrendered by the farm owner, Spruill said.
The rescue was carried out after Beaufort County Animal Control received an anonymous complaint Friday afternoon, Spruill said. Animal-control officers visited the farm, and, based on their observations there, they sought a warrant to search the farm.
Beaufort County Animal Control rescued animals at the farm Monday and Tuesday with help from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Humane Society of the United States, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office’s Animal Control and the U.S. Equine Rescue League.
“The living conditions were not at all in line with how an animal should be housed,” said Jennifer Hack, executive director and investigations director with the U.S. Equine Rescue League.
An investigator from the USERL’s North Carolina Central Coast Region, which covers Beaufort County, helped evaluate the horses’ health before they were seized, Hack said.
USERL volunteers, volunteers with the Humane Society and animal-control officers helped relocate the horses. The horses are in the custody of Beaufort County. They are being kept at two separate, undisclosed locations in the county, Spruill said.
Although he declined to put a figure on the total cost of the rescue to the county, Spruill said it would be “significant.”
“The county suffers significant costs regardless of whether or not we respond to an owner turn-in or seizure of animals, period. Having said that, the cost would be far greater if not for the help of various volunteers,” Spruill said.
Hack said the rescue “will not be a cheap endeavor for the county.” According to her, a veterinarian will have to examine the horses thoroughly.
“Because they were stallions, any mares have to be pregnancy-tested; some might need special feeding programs,” she said.
The horses will remain in the county’s possession at least until the sheriff’s office finishes its investigation and forwards its findings to the district attorney’s office.
“It’s difficult to predict the county’s plan for the horses at this point,” Spruill said.
Hack said the USERL will not take the horses.
“Our organization is overloaded with horses. We do not have facilities we can take them to,” she said. “In the 12 years, it’s (the USERL) been around, we’ve never been in this situation, where we’re not able to take in animals.”