VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Two severely malnourished horses that were seized from an Edgewater home last week are receiving care and treatment at an undisclosed location, according to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
Chitwood appeared in a video posted to the department’s social media accounts Wednesday that shows him hand feeding Niagara, a brown mare, and Tiffany, a black mare, at a confidential location.
“I can ensure everyone that they are getting the greatest care, they are being loved and the vet told us in her 20 plus years of being a veterinarian, this was the worst case of malnutrition and dehydration the vet has ever seen,” Chitwood said.
The Sheriff’s Office said the horses were about 200 pounds underweight but continue to improve daily.
The next seven to 10 days are critical for the horses’ care as the veterinarian puts them on a diet to help them gain weight. Around that same time, the veterinarian will generate a report that will determine whether authorities are able to press charges in the case.
Photos from when the Arabian horses were seized show both animals’ hip bones and spines protruding from underneath their skin.
“Hopefully the good Lord will allow these animals to survive,” Chitwood said.
Chitwood said the owner has given the Sheriff’s Office custody of the horses.
A woman who lives next door to the Clinton Cemetery Road home where the horses once lived said she fed the animals apples and carrots until the owner told her to stop.
Chitwood’s video comes days after he admitted that the Sheriff’s Office “dropped the ball” in the case, which a deputy first became aware of in July.
“(The deputy) saw there was hay there, he saw there was water in the water buckets and the owner told him that the horses had some type of medical condition and they were getting treated by a vet,” Chitwood said on Friday.
Chitwood said a communication error is likely to blame for the lack of a follow up visit. An investigation is underway.