Enoch animal control officer Chris Johnson said that when she arrived on the scene, she encountered one of the worst cases of animal neglect she had ever seen in her entire career with the department in Enoch.
“It was gut-wrenching,” Johnson said. “She was lying on the ground, and she couldn’t lift her head out of the mud, which was starting to melt a little bit.”
Johnson said that the concerned citizen who called in the neglect was there when she arrived, and had tried to feed the horse some hay. She said the horse – who has since been name Elsa after the snow queen in the new Disney animation Frozen – was still frozen to the ground by her body, but that didn’t stop Elsa from trying to eat the food that was offered.
Johnson said Elsa’s body temperature was a low 92 degrees, whereas a healthy horse should have a temperature of anywhere from 99 – 100 degrees normally.
In addition to Elsa’s low body temperature, Johnson said the foal and her mother, Anna, were both severely underweight, requiring both horses to be removed from the owner’s property January 2. Since then, both horses have been recovering under the care of ranch founder Ginger Grimes.
“The mamma was so hungry that all she did was eat the whole time,” Johnson said.
Though the mare was too hungry to do much other than eat before going to the ranch, Johnson said that by Tuesday she was reintroduced to her baby, and it was a clear that she was happy to see her again.
“She let out a big whinny and she smiled,” she said.
Grimes said that both horses were 300 pounds underweight, or more when they came into her care.
“The mare would score a one or a one-and-a-half on a body score index chart that a vet would assess,” She said. “Five being a normal horse.
The foal was a one,” she added.
Anna is eating well on her own, and able to walk, but Grimes said that Elsa still cannot get up and walk on her own. She said that someone had made a makeshift sling to help the baby horse to stand successfully, but eventually Elsa would need a real sling that was designed specifically for this purpose.
Grimes said Elsa is a feisty little foal with tons of spirit. Though she lost hair and some patches of skin to the ice, had a spilt lip with damage to the tooth and gum underneath, and could possibly lose sight completely in her right eye – the one that was frozen to the ground – Elsa continues to eat healthy portions of feed, and try to get up and move.
Sargent Mike Berg of the Enoch Police Department said that in Utah this crime is considered a class B misdemeanor, because there are no laws written to protect horses the way laws are written to protect household pets like dogs or cats.
The horse owners were formally charged on January 2 with two counts of animal neglect or cruelty based on the Utah state statutes.
“For right now that’s as high as we can go,” he said, explaining that if the foal dies at least one of the charges will be upgraded to a felony.
In the meantime, Grimes said the costs of veterinary care, and feed to help rehabilitate Anna and Elsa are incredibly high and she hopes that someone in the community would be interested in sponsoring one or both horses. She said all donations are tax deductible, and if sponsorship is not an option, she is hoping that community members will donate to the ranch and just earmark the funds for “the girls” if that is where they want it to go.
“Elsa is going to have very extensive vet bills,” Grimes said. “And she needs special feed so the need is high.”
The horses have been recovering quickly Grimes said, the foal is still not out of the woods as of yet. She said Elsa still requires 24-hour supervision to make sure she is covered in blankets through the night so she can maintain her body temperature.
“She progressively gets feistier so that’s a good thing,” Grimes said.
Donations can be made to the ranch at www.dustdevilranch.org, and the story of Elsa and Anna can be followed on their facebook page Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses.