Horse fighting for its life

Liz Leoncavallo (from left) and veterinarian Justin Miller lead two horses from a Mercury Road residence to a waiting trailer Thursday. The horses were taken into custody by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.

SUMMERVILLE - Angel, a malnourished 25-year-old mare authorities seized last week from a field in Hamlin Beach, is still fighting for her life, said the director of an animal advocacy group that has taken custody of the animal.

The horse requires extensive rehabilitative treatment and the bills are mounting, said Elizabeth Steed, director of LEARN, the Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network.

LEARN is a volunteer group that relies solely on donations, she said.

"Without donations, the only other option we have is euthanasia," she said.

Angel is one of two horses, a mare and a stallion, that were taken into custody by Charleston County sheriff's deputies Thursday. The horses were found tethered in a field without access to food or water behind a house on Mercury Road.

Angel was lying on the ground, unresponsive, according to an incident report. Deputies contacted LEARN for assistance.

A LEARN volunteer got the mare to her feet by cooling her down and giving her water. The organization took temporary protective custody of both animals. The owner of the horses was not present the day the horses were seized. Deputies charged Rufus Manigault Jr., who lives on the property, with two counts of ill treatment of animals.

Manigualt was found not guilty at a hearing Tuesday before Charleston County Magistrate Thomas E. Lynn.

The horses' owner, Benjamin Elbert, 62, of Hook Lane, Mount Pleasant, was fined $500 each for two counts of ill treatment of animals. Lynn also ordered that the animals should remain in the custody of authorities.

The stallion has been placed with a LEARN volunteer in a foster care situation, Steed said. The horse will be gelded and then transferred to the care of another volunteer, one who has agreed to take in horses with unusual medical needs, Steed said.

Angel remains at the Shambley Equine Clinic in Summerville, Steed said. It will cost anywhere between $1,800 to $2,000 to save the animal's life, she said.

Veterinarians found a one-inch piece of glass in her hoof and she was 400 pounds underweight, Steed said.

"We have a lady who is willing to take her and keep her for the rest of her life," Steed said. "But she cannot afford to pay for the rehabilitation."

Reach David W. MacDougall at macdougd@postandcourier.com or 937-5655.