SPCA needs help nurturing abused horses back to health

FRESNO, Calif.

Their owner, 59 year old /*Dana Kahler*/ of Fresno, was arrested Tuesday night on charges of felony animal abuse after all of the horses were found in poor health.

Moments before the last five horses were rescued and taken to the Central California SPCA, the agency received a hefty donation from a local family shocked by what they saw on the evening news.

"This is a portable panel fencing," said Linda Van Kirk, Executive Director of the SPCA. "It's going to make a 30 foot round pen. It was donated by a very generous donor out of Madera and we're going to put this up temporarily to house the animals coming in."

Donors also dropped off 37 bales of hay as well as 10 stacks of straw to provide bedding for the horses.

Over the last two days, the SPCA seized 18 horses from the land leased by Kahler. One of the horses was in such bad shape it had to be put down, seven of them were found to be severely malnourished.

"We have mares that are both nursing babies and pregnant," said Katy Byrd, veterinarian at the Central California SPCA. "And they can't even care for themselves, much less their babies. It seems they're being bread with their brothers and sisters, offspring and parents. They're just all in-breading because everyone is running together."

Byrd examined each horse as it came in. She says three of them appear to be pregnant, most of them look as if they've never received any type of medical attention.

"They all really need their feet trimmed," said Byrd. "It's severe enough some are having trouble walking, the babies are all developing with malformed legs because of the way their feet have not been cared for."

While the SPCA is working with private stables to help board the horses, it says the economy and the high price of hay has taken a toll on horse owners. It says the cost of hay recently jumped from $5 a bale to $10-15 a bale and that many families are now struggling to feed their animals.

"People can't feed their horses, the economy is terrible and horses are the first ones to suffer," said donor Laura Escovido.

The SPCA also said it's rescued more horses this year than in the previous 20 combined. Because of the recent surge in numbers, it requires help from the public. With 18 horses coming in at one time, it said the need is now greater than ever before.

"Not only do we need donations of money, supplies, feed," said Byrd. "But we especially need experienced horse people who, in anyway, can socialize these animals with humans, because they have no clue what a human is all about."

If you'd like to donate to the Central California SPCA, call (559) 233-7722 or click on www.ccspca.com.

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