Representatives of the Stone County Sheriff Department, the Humane Society and Trails End Horse Haven converged on a property in McHenry Thursday and seized five horses.
CHRISTI POWELL (LEFT) AND DORI THOMPSON OF TRAILS END HORSE HAVEN LEAD A HORSE TO A TRAILER FOR TRANSPORT. JODY O’HARA / ENTERPRISE
SCSD Chief Deputy Phyllis Olds said her department had received complaints about the treatment of the horses and herself and Lydia Sattler, Mississippi State Director of The Humane Society of the United States, had investigated and given the owner a reasonable period of time to bring the care of the animals up to acceptable standards but he had not done so.
Ricky Edwards, the owner, told investigators he had procured veterinary care for the horses, yet he could not identify the veterinarian.
The horses, two of which appeared to be in foal, were emaciated and appeared to have issues with their coats.
"This horse is probably 600 to 700 pounds underweight," said Dori Thompson, founder of Trails End in Petal. "The coat looks like it does because of untreated parasites."
Edwards had a bale of hay strewn on the ground, littered with horse feces.
He also had two bags of feed but they were in a car and a truck and unavailable to the animals.
The area around a recreational vehicle in which Edwards allegedly lives was littered with trash and hundreds of beer cans.
"He can't even take care of himself," Olds said. "He doesn't need to have these animals."
Sattler said her organization receives several calls a week about mistreated horses.
"We investigate every one," she said. "Sadly, education and intervention could prevent this from happening."
Edwards had five days to challenge the seizure of the animals or forfeit them.
"If he doesn't fight the seizure, we'll probably let it go without charges," Olds said. "Otherwise, he faces a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals."
Sattler said the horses would see a veterinarian in Purvis, be evaluated, treated and quarantined and then placed in foster care until the case was concluded.