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Owner Of Union County Horse Farm Accused Of Animal Neglect


UPDATED: Sunday October 6, 2013 12:38 AM

Accusations of neglect for animals have led the Union County Humane Society to launch an investigation into the Tender Touch farm near Marysville.

The director of the Humane Society says people living near the farm first brought the case to his attention, after seeing starving horses.

Lisa Gilliam, who runs Tender Touch, says she keeps the horses, in part, to offer low-cost lessons to families who can't afford them.

People near her farm say they got suspicious, when they started seeing several of those horses become frail.

“They take a lot of work, but that's what I do, is taking care of them, doing the lessons and making sure the horses are taken care of,” said Gilliam.

However, the Union County Humane Society says Gilliam did not take care of all of them well enough.

Gilliam says she is currently tending to nine horses and two ponies on the farm near her home.  

More than 5 miles from her home, humane agents say they found other malnourished horses, with hardly any food around.

Baldwin shared a picture of one of the horses he recovered, showing a thin horse with its ribs showing.

Baldwin said, in total, he removed six horses from the farm that were nearly starved to death.

“The condition that they were in, I could not - in good conscience - leave them there.  They were skin and bones,” said Baldwin.

Gilliam claims she received the thinner horses from a rescue, and that she was taking care of them.  She said it takes time to get them healthy.

“We were slowly getting them used to grain and getting them used to being fed correctly, and it takes time. We only had them for a few months,” said Gilliam.

But, Baldwin said the horses’ current condition raises questions.  “If the horse is going from starved to well fed, typically in three weeks, to a month, you will begin to see a noticeable improvement,” said Baldwin.

Gilliam maintains that she did nothing wrong.  However, angry animal-lovers nearby want her operation shut down.

“If she can't take care of the horses, and if she can't provide for them, then she needs to give them to someone who can,” said Union County resident Cathy Hall.

Baldwin said that two of the six horses recovered by the Humane Society were in such poor condition, they had to be euthanized.

Baldwin expects to be presenting the details of his investigation to the Union County law director on Monday.

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