Abused horse adopted by rescuer in Merced County, previous owner found guilty of animal cruelty

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A horse that nearly starved to death in the North Valley is now getting a second chance at life thanks to one of his rescuers.

Members of the Merced County Animal Services team found the emaciated horse back in May of 2018 at a property near Gustine after getting an anonymous call. Animal Services Supervisor Lauren Perry says even she wasn't prepared for the heartbreaking condition he was in at the time.

"Almost as if he was giving up. Not to try to make it more dramatic than it is, but he just looked done," says Perry.

She managed to load the emaciated equine known as "Mr. T" in a trailer and drive him back to the county shelter, where his long road to recovery began. Veterinarians put him on a special diet and removed damaged teeth. However, months later he still wasn't thriving, and no rescue groups were able to take him.

Perry says, "I got the call that it was looking like he was going to need to be put down so I called my husband and talked it over with him. The next day I adopted him and transferred everything over to me."

Perry brought the horse home on Halloween of last year. She and her staff changed his name to Splash because of his unique coat that looks as if he was splashed with paint. He's still on a special diet and requires daily arthritis medication, but he's now living the good life.

Perry says, "He's only in a pen with another horse, and she's also older so the other guys they get to mingle through the fence, but he's the king of his pasture. We call it "Old Horse Acres."

Splash's story has inspired offers of support since being shared on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page. Authorities say anyone interested in helping Splash or other neglected horses can contact them for donation information, and residents are also encouraged to adopt other neglected animals.

Deputy Daryl Allen explains, "We have lots of animals that need love, need care, similar situations like this where we would love for a good family to take care of those animals."

As for Splash's previous owner, Connie Foster, a jury convicted her on October 25 on one felony count of animal cruelty and a misdemeanor for failure to care for an animal. She's scheduled to be sentenced on December 10.
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