LANCASTER — One day after being rescued from a Lancaster home, an emaciated horse had to be put down. Veterinarians decided Sunny was too badly injured and was euthanized soon after his removal from a sun-drenched suburban yard.
On Tuesday, Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin told News 8 the city received concerned calls as early as three weeks ago about the horse on Blue Grove Road. Over the Labor Day weekend, the police department got four 911 calls about a distressed horse spotted lying in a yard.
Each time, Mauldin says, officers investigated and decided the owner was adequately caring for the horse.
“There were no indications of malintent or reason to believe the horse was neglected,” Mauldin told News 8, adding officers noted the horse had food and water and was standing.
Yet on Monday, the horse was not standing and clearly was having trouble lifting its head when a News 8 camera arrived.
Neighbors say Sunny had been lying in roughly the same spot for weeks and that calls for help went unanswered.
The scene of a horse lying motionless between a fence and a home’s air conditioning unit startled passerby like Rusty Lemley, who at first feared the horse was dead.
“There’s just nothing but a skeleton,” she said through tears before rescuers arrived. “That horse has suffered.”
Footage of the emaciated horse lying in the mud exposed to triple digit temperatures infuriated viewers. Many wrote online demanding the owner be arrested.
“There is no excuse for this horse to be in this shape…. Why is he not in jail?” one person asked on wfaa.com.
The horse is owned by Alfred Edwards, who says he got ‘Sunny’ about three years ago and was unsure of his age. He says the animal’s condition deteriorated last month from injuries he received in an April tornado.
“He’s being fed. He can get up and walk, if he wants to,” Edwards insisted to News 8 on Monday. However, he also admitted the horse likely needed care he couldn’t afford.
“I can’t afford to have done what he probably needs to have done to him,” Edwards conceded. “$400 to come out here and kill him; well, I give him a chance.”
Lancaster’s city manager says the police do not intend to investigate further and will not charge Edwards with a crime. Mauldin says police were satisfied after Edwards offered the name of a veterinarian who was overseeing the horse’s care and giving it medication.
After Lemley’s pleas, the Human Society of North Texas arrived Monday afternoon and convinced Edwards to give Sunny up.
Just getting Sunny to his feet and moving him a few feet to a waiting trailer proved very difficult for the animal.
“It wouldn’t have hurt (for the owner) to call a few days ago asking for help,” observed Charles Thompson, an investigator with the Human Society of North Texas. “It just went a little too far, I guess… He’s not in the greatest of shape.”