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November 13, 2009

Baltimore Cart Horses Rescued

19 horses saved from gross neglect and unsanitary living conditions

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by Joanne Meszoly

The call came in late on Monday afternoon: Baltimore City was requesting our assistance in removing 19 horses and ponies who were living in dilapidated tents, sandwiched between abandoned railroad cars and an abandoned building under a bridge.

These horses pull vegetable carts through the busy city streets. They had been grossly neglected and their living conditions deemed "unsafe and inhumane" by city officials.

Evidence of Severe Neglect

We immediately pulled together a team of responders from The HSUS and the Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Maryland, and arranged to remove the horses the next morning.

When we arrived at daybreak, we were hit by the smell of rotting trash, fetid water, urine soaked bedding and manure.

Rats scuttled past us, and we were forced to duck under hanging electrical wires and step over trash and debris to make our way to the tents.

Inside the tents, the scene was just as grim—horses and ponies were in small, dark stalls, standing on mounds of their own manure. With their dirty buckets devoid of feed or water, some horses made a futile attempt to sustain themselves by nibbling on manure-coated straw.

Several of the horses' feet were so grossly overgrown that they curled at the toes, while others bore the rubs and scars from harnesses and stocked, swollen legs from lengthy confinement.

All were hungry, thirsty and caked with dirt.

Wasting No Time

Our team worked quickly to assess and document the condition of each horse and safely loaded them onto waiting trailers.

With help from Days End Farm Horse Rescue, all 19 horses were loaded up and relocated to the rescue's Woodbine, Maryland property. There, they were placed in large box stalls at the facility's quarantine barn—a welcome change from the squalid conditions they had been forced to endure.

Within a matter of hours, the once wary and despondent horses brightened up as they were moved into clean, bright stalls with food and water. Several of the horses immediately dug into the hay and drank their fill of water, while others spent nearly an hour eating the salt licks that contain minerals essential to an equine diet.

For the foreseeable future, the horses will remain at Days End, where they will be examined by veterinarians and treated for any illnesses and injuries.

A much brighter future, indeed.


Joanne Meszoly is a Project Assistant for Equine Protection at The Humane Society of the United States

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