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Six Harford horses taken to rescue farm in Howard County

Six horses were removed from Harford County Friday and taken to a rescue farm in Howard County, according to the organization that is caring for them.

The horses, four mares and two stallions, which were described as "emaciated," were taken to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Inc. in Woodbine, according to a media release from the non-profit animal rescue organization.

On Wednesday, Harford County government spokesman Bob Thomas said the animals were removed from a farm in the Forest Hill area. He said details about the ownership of the horses was not available while the matter remains under investigation. County animal control officials are determining if charges will be filed against the owner of the animals, Thomas said.

He also said the original complaint about the horses was received by the animal shelter in Baltimore County, which in turn forwarded it on to Harford.

The media release from Days End Farm, states that the animals were removed Friday "at the request of Harford County animal protection officials" and that all are receiving "immediate critical care and evaluation."

According to the Days End Farm release, three of the six horses rescued from Harford were rated as a 1 or 1.5 out of 9 on the Body Condition Scale, or "as thin as a horse can be and still be alive;" two were rated 2.5 and one was rated 3. According to the release, veterinarians consider a body score of 4 to 7 as acceptable.

The six horses range in age from 4 to 12 years. According to the release, one has a swollen knee and several suffer from dermatitis.

"Over the next several days, a more thorough evaluation will determine the condition of their teeth, whether they have other starvation-related issues and the extent of internal parasites," the release states, also noting that the horses "will require substantial veterinary care and critical treatment.

According to its release, Days End Farm Horse Rescue was founded in 1989 and is a volunteer-based, all breed rescue relying solely on donations to carry out its mission.

Caroline Robertson, development director for Days End Farm, said Tuesday night that the six horses are "thoroughbred type" and one was tattooed suggesting it might have been a racehorse, although they did not have any confirmation of that.

Robertson said her organization picked the horses up at the request of Harford animal control officials, to whom she referred questions about the location of the horses and other details of the rescue on the Harford County end. "This case is still pending," she said.

She said there is some concern about the survival prospects for the most emaciated of the horses; however, she also explained all the horses have been placed on "strict rehabilitation program" to rebuild their bodies under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Robertson said the care for each horse will run between $1,900 and $2,400 a month. Noting that the farm operates only by private contributions, "any donations are greatly appreciated," she said.

Harford County has historically been a center for horse ownership and breeding. According to the most recent Maryland Department of Agriculture and USDA Census of Agriculture for the county, there were 6,200 horses in Harford in 2010.

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