Horses, Goats Rescued From Mounds of Filth on Ohio Farm

Their hooves were severely overgrown and they were standing in piles of manure.

Horse with eye injury in filthy stall

Meredith Lee / HSUS

More than two dozen horses, goats, dogs, and cats are being treated by veterinarians and receiving care after being rescued from a farm in Ashland County, Ohio.

Investigators removed the animals from a rural property after being alerted to an alleged case of mistreatment. Horses and goats were found in filthy stalls, sometimes standing on piles of manure several feet high.

Ashland County Sheriff’s Office removed 16 horses, six goats, and several dogs and cats from the area and immediately assessed their medical needs.

The horses and goats had overgrown hooves, which can affect their ability to walk and lead to other serious health issues. One mare was pacing in her pen with what appeared to be a ruptured eye. Another thin mare was found lying on her side in the manure. She had difficulty walking when she was led by rescuers from her stall.

A goat had a horn curling into the side of his head and very overgrown hooves. Because there was so much manure in his stall, responders had a difficult time opening the door to his enclosure in order to take him out of the barn.

Teams from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Humane Society of Ashland County, Days End Farm Horse Rescue, and Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary helped with the operation.

“It’s like walking into an abandoned, forgotten barn, but there are beautiful living beings trapped here. Looking at the accumulation of waste, you can only imagine how long these animals have been suffering in these conditions,” said Mark Finneran, Ohio director for the Humane Society of the United States, in a statement. “We are grateful to the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office and everyone involved in intervening so these animals never have to live this way again.”

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 Dirt, Debris, and Cobwebs

goats in a dirty stall before rescue

Meredith Lee / HSUS

Law officials learned about the situation from an emergency call, according to the Ashland Times-Gazette. The caller reported that horses were "standing in manure" and that their "hooves are turned up."

Parts of a rural road in Milton Township were closed for hours as responders worked to remove the animals from the property.

Video footage of the rescue shows so much of the barn covered in layers of dirt, debris, and cobwebs. It took four rescuers to guide the weakened horse out of the barn as she wobbled on shaky legs and highly overgrown hooves.

“It’s pretty shocking to see the level of neglect and how long they must have been in there for the feces to accumulate so high,” said Laura Koivula, director of animal crimes and investigations for HSUS, in the video. “It really, truly looked abandoned except there were animals living there.”

They are now receiving veterinary attention and care.

Some commenters online bashed the owners, while others defended them, suggesting they were seniors and unable to provide adequate care.

“It sounds like people HAVE tried to help them for several years, but their help was unwelcomed and not wanted. Others in the community had no idea the animals were even there as it looked abandoned,” said one commenter on an Ashland County Facebook page.

“Those poor animals didn't have a choice but to stand and lay in their own waste. Waste so high they had to pry open the doors to get some of the animals. They had no choice but to breathe in the dust and cobwebs and waste matter into their lungs. Obviously, no veterinarian care had been provided to them for many years.”