JOHNS ISLAND -- Six horses described as emaciated were taken from a farm Friday after Charleston County sheriff's deputies and a veterinarian inspected their health and living conditions.
The horses at 3288 Plow Ground Road were taken into emergency protective custody. The conditions at the farm for 24 horses that remain there will be monitored on a daily basis, the sheriff's office reported.
The name of the owner was not released Friday because there was some confusion about the deed to the property, said Lt. Jack Scarborough. The sheriff's office did not provide information about whether anyone would be charged in the case.
Armed with a search warrant, officials entered the Kennerleigh Farm shortly after noon. The search warrant was requested after investigators entered the property Friday morning to do a welfare check on the horses in response to a complaint about their living conditions.
During the welfare check, veterinarian Justin Miller of Shambley Equine Clinic in Summerville said he saw a lack of water, poor nutrition and overt signs of intestinal parasites on six horses of concern. He said he could see the horses' ribs and spines.
The sheriff's office received a call at 9:40 a.m. from a representative of the Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network suggesting that some horses at the farm were being neglected, Scarborough said.
Scarborough said the property owner, who owns 22 of the 30 horses on the farm, was cooperative. The remaining eight horses are boarders that seemed to be OK during the welfare check of the property, Miller said.
Miller said he is seeing more ill or undernourished horses because of the economy and the heat. Cases of heat stroke, colic and foot problems all have been among the illnesses he's seen. He said he's been to a dozen different properties to examine horses recently because they were suspected of being neglected.
"The sustained humidity has had a serious effect," he said. "It just wears on them."
Miller and authorities recently seized two horses at Hamlin Beach in Mount Pleasant after investigating their living conditions.
Elizabeth Steed, director of LEARN, said 47 horses were rescued last year in Charleston and Colleton counties. Thirty-three of the horses came from Colleton County. So far this year, LEARN has rescued 11 horses in Charleston County, including the six animals seized Friday.
"We have a huge unwanted-horse issue," she said.
LEARN will care for the four horses in the worst condition at its facility in Meggett. The other two horses will be placed in foster care, Steed said.
She accompanied authorities when they entered the property to inspect the horses' living conditions. "Emaciated. That's the only way you can put it," she said.
One horse trough had four inches of water. The others were dry. Two dead birds floated in a garbage can. "It was deplorable conditions," she said.
A pony, a stallion, two geldings and two mares were seized. It will cost about $1,800 per horse to restore their health, Steed said. "It is going to be a huge financial undertaking," she said.
LEARN relies on donations. Those interested in making a contribution can do so at any First Federal of Charleston location and at Cordray's in Red Top, she said.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711 or firstname.lastname@example.org