VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The owner of two malnourished horses that were recently seized from a property in Edgewater has been charged with animal cruelty after admitting that the animals went at least two weeks without food, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
The two Arabian mares named Tiffany and Niagara were taken from the property after residents reported that their bones were visible and they appeared to be malnourished, records show.
According to an arrest report, investigating deputies noted that the horses’ feed buckets were empty and there was very little grass or greenery for them to graze on in the pasture in which they were kept.
When deputies questioned Anthony Cartrette about his horses’ condition, he initially said he believed it was because he accidentally gave them an unknown medication when he meant to administer a de-worming treatment, the affidavit said.
He claimed he had a veterinarian see the horses after that incident to make sure they weren’t poisoned since they were losing weight, but the doctor said he hadn’t provided care to the animals since 2018, records show.
Deputies said they opted to seize the horses from the property on Dec. 11 because their condition appeared to be getting worse and they had even chewed on the fence, indicating that they were trying to obtain some nutrition.
On Dec. 16, deputies went back to the property to contact 41-year-old Cartrette. He said then that he was unemployed and struggling to pay his bills, which was why he hadn’t fed the horses hay or grain in “two to three weeks,” according to the affidavit.
He said he contacted several rescue organizations to see if they would care for the animals but he couldn’t find a group that would take them.
When asked why the horses had very little water in their troughs on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11, Cartrette replied, “I usually fill their water up every morning,” records show.
The horses’ ownership has since been signed over to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. They’re receiving care at an undisclosed location.
Records show a veterinarian described them both as emaciated and noted they are suffering from heart murmurs that are believed to be related to malnutrition.
On Wednesday, a video was posted to the department’s Facebook page showing Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood hand feeding the two animals. He said their conditions have improved but they aren’t out of the woods yet.
That footage was published days after Chitwood said the department “dropped the ball” by not following up on an earlier tip about the horses.
Cartrette is facing two counts of animal cruelty and two counts of confinement of animals without sufficient food and water.