Malnourished animals rescued from Gibson Co. farm

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With a hoof and a prayer, two horses, a pony, and a donkey are rescued from a farm in Gibson County near Owensville. Time has taken its toll on the motley crew of animals.

Rescuers say the road to recovery will be a long one, but they believe it’s worth the work.

It took a couple of hours and a few tosses of a lasso to get the animals under control and put into a trailer. Brenda Foley with Gibson County Animal Services says they are skittish and often not around humans.

“It’s absolutely heart wrenching,” Elanor Baumgart says, with A Hoof and a Prayer horse rescue. “It breaks my heart.”

It took rescuers hours, racing against time as much as they are against the horses, because Baumgart says these animals are in bad shape. She has been rescuing horses for years and it never gets easier. Without her help and the loop of a lasso, these horses may not make it.

Foley says the animals are malnourished and haven’t had proper care for their hooves or teeth. There is no shelter and there are holes in the fence. She isn’t sure how old the horses are or how long they’ve been neglected.

Gibson County Sheriff’s deputies have been investigating and obtained a seizure warrant from a judge, which allowed animal control and Baumgart to come legally take the animals.

“You eat a lot of emotion every day, because you have to put aside that emotion,” Foley says. “But it comes out eventually, even if it’s alone at home, sitting in your own chair.”

The Gibson County Prosecutor’s office had no comment on potential animal cruelty charges. A spokesperson said the prosecutor is still waiting for law enforcement to finish the investigation.

According to Gibson County property records, the owner of the farm is Thomas Rutledge. Court documents show he has an open case for “intimidation with a threat to commit a forcible felony,” which is a level-6 felony.

He also pled guilty in 2015 to jacklighting, illegally shooting from or across a road, and illegally taking wild animals; all misdemeanors.

Rutledge pulled into the farm just as the last horse was being loaded into a trailer. He talked to law enforcement for several minutes and he was visibly upset.

Foley says she offered help to the owner, but it he did not accept responsibility.

Baumgart will take the animals back to her farm and rehab them. She says she’s willing to give them back to the owner if he can take better care.

“I don’t understand how people can do it,” Baumgart says, “These horses don’t get in this condition overnight.”

It’s a race against time she’s trying to turn back.

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(This story was originally published March 21, 2018)

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