Eight horses rescued over the weekend from a property outside Fawn Grove will need long-term care before they are ready for adoption, York County SPCA executive director Melissa Smith said.
Six of the horses are either emaciated or close to it; the other two are thin, she said.
A ninth horse — a 4-month-old foal — was found dead in a makeshift stall, SPCA officials said.
The rescued horses are suffering from medical issues including hoof problems, rain rot and open wounds, according to Smith. Rain rot is a skin disease that afflicts livestock.
"There is no reason someone should allow their horses to deteriorate to this condition," she said. "This wasn't something that happened overnight. This was long-term neglect, to allow these animals to deteriorate to this state."
'No excuses': Smith lamented that "animals become victims in all sorts of people-related drama," and said groups and agencies are ready to help people who realize they can no longer afford to care for their animals.
"There are no excuses," Smith said. "This is a perfect example of someone being overwhelmed and not providing the proper care, but not taking the steps to get proper help for the animals before they become emaciated."
Two Thoroughbreds, Pico and Lex, were found confined to makeshift stalls with no access to food, according to Smith. Lex was described as "almost lifeless" by witnesses, SPCA officials said.
Frozen water: Six of the horses were in a pasture with access to shelter, but the water troughs inside the shelter held only frozen water because there are no heaters, Smith said. The pastured horses apparently had access to a creek, she said.
Also, there was little or no hay available to the horses, officials said.
Walter, a Belgian draft horse, is in his full winter coat, but his ribs are still visible, according to Smith.
Because the horses didn't have enough body fat and no adequate bedding, they couldn't adequately maintain their body temperatures during the recent cold spell, she said.
Citations pending: The horses were owned by Shawn Miller, 38, of New Providence, Lancaster County, who on Friday voluntarily signed them over to SPCA Humane Police Officer Nicole Boyer, Smith said.
Miller was boarding them at a property on Graceton Road in Peach Bottom Township, officials said.
Boyer will be filing numerous summary animal-cruelty citations against Miller for neglect, Smith said.
Miller declined comment through a relative.
Team effort: Local equine organizations "jumped into action," helping Boyer and the SPCA relocate the eight horses on Saturday and Sunday.
They include Omega Horse Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in Airville; Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mount Airy, Md.; volunteers with the York County SPCA's equine committee; and Gwen and Dennis Mills of York County, who foster horses and do other volunteer work for the SPCA.
A&L Horse Transport of New Oxford was on standby, ready to help if needed, according to Smith.
"It was really a team effort to get the horses out of there on such short notice," she said.
Gentle Giants has taken a couple of the horses, and Omega Horse Rescue took in one, Smith said. The rest are being fostered on York County farms.
Costly rehab: The food and medical care needed to nurse the horses back to health will be costly, according to Smith.
"We are talking thousands and thousands of dollars to get these animals back to where they should be," she said. "We are looking at spending a lot of money over a lot of time."
Eventually, the horses will be available for adoption, she said.
HOW TO HELP:
People who want to help the horses can donate to the York County SPCA's Equine Care Fund. Click here for the SPCA's website.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.