It was a shock for even experienced veterinarians like Dr. Wynne DiGrassie.
DiGrassie says, "It's basically skin on bone. There is no fat, there is no muscle, there is nothing there for them to draw any reserves from."
Thirty horses seized from a Staunton farm over the weekend are now in her care at the Mountain View Equine Hospital in Steeles Tavern.
One was found dead, and on a condition scale from one to ten, 19 are said to be in the one-to-two range. On top of that, at least six of the horses are pregnant.
"This woman should be in prison," adds DiGrassie.
The alleged offender is 61-year-old Terry Lynn Sullivan.
She had been caring for the horses under a company known as the Fern Leigh Foundation.
Sullivan has already been convicted twice for animal cruelty, and Debbie Caywood at the Augusta Regional SPCA says she has been a problem for 15 years.
"You become angry, you become frustrated," says Caywood. "My question is, 'How many horses have to die under this woman's care?'"
An in-depth report on the animals is now being compiled, with the latest charges against Sullivan expected to follow.
Caywood says, "I think it's time that we all work together to put this chapter to and end. Hopefully no other horses will have to suffer under the Fern Leigh Foundation again."
"When you go home at night, you break down," says DiGrassie. "You can't help it, to see these horses in this bad of condition would make anyone want to cry."
The SPCA is hoping the public can help care for the horses through donations. Items the SPCA needs include:
- Flax seed
- Senior/High fat horse food
- 12 percent horse feed
- Mare/Foal feed
- Salt/Mineral Blocks - Large and small
- Square hay bales
- Alfalfa or alfalfa mix hay bales
- Round hay bales for the field
- Alfalfa cubes
- Feed buckets with secure handles
People interested in donating can call the following contact number for the SPCA: 540-885-SPCA (7722)