Starving Horses – Rescued!

January 12th, 2012 by Doll Stanley


January 13, 2012 – IDA has been granted permanent custody of 15 starving horses and a mule seized after Yazoo County resident Alvin Ross was found guilty today in Yazoo County Justice Court, of nine counts of cruelty to animals. Charges were filed by the Sheriff’s Department on December 15, 2011, following the discovery of nine dead horses in varying stages of decomposition on the property. Ross was found guilty of confining the horses without sufficient quantity of wholesome food, a misdemeanor under Mississippi animal cruelty laws. The remaining horses were seized under a court order issued by Justice Court Judge Pam May on December 21, 2011, and are now at various locations receiving much-needed rehabilitative foster care and veterinary treatment. Judge May, who presided over the hearing today, offered to suspend the fines if Ross would surrender all rights to the seized horses.


Our report this week comes from our extraordinary volunteer Debbie Young. It’s a tale of 15 horses and a mule who will survive because Debbie launched and maintained our efforts for their rescue and care. And a huge thanks to Have A Heart Rescue for aiding with the treatment of some of the horses. 

Debbie: “I’d been watching the news about starving horses five miles from my home. I had been told a few days earlier that the local humane society was working on either a seizure order or attempting to the get the keeper of the horses to voluntarily surrender them.

As of December 15, with at least 15 horses in various stages of malnourishment and several dead horses on the property in various stages of decomposition, the Yazoo County (Mississippi) Sheriff’s Department filed cruelty charges against Alvin Ross. Mr. Ross turned himself in and immediately posted bond. He then moved the horses to unknown locations. Now the horses wouldn’t even get the extra hay that was being thrown over the fence to them by concerned people.

On December 20, I received a call from a friend who was frantic because nothing was being done to take custody of the horses and get them the rehabilitative care they so desperately needed. It turned out the local humane society had decided NOT to proceed with seizure action, and the Sheriff’s Department was unable to take responsibility for the care of the horses. 

I placed an urgent call to Doll Stanley of Hope Animal Sanctuary and her response was immediate. IDA would attempt to secure a seizure order for the horses. That afternoon, with a seizure order in hand thanks to IDA, I went to the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department to request its assistance in processing the order. After some serious verbal wrangling, the investigator realized we weren’t going away. He instructed us to return early the next morning when the deputy who had been working the case would be on duty, and the Justice Court judge would be in court. After an extended wait, the deputy took us to Justice Court where a sympathetic clerk gave me the first ray of hope since this all began. Thanks to excellent television coverage regarding the case, she was aware of the condition of the horses and made sure the judge was shown all the accompanying photos. We had a signed seizure order that was served immediately.

Within hours, we took over the care of the first four horses. That night they were warm, with fresh hay, and a measured amount of senior horse feed to begin their long journey back to a healthy weight.

The Mississippi Board of Animal Health (MBAH) responded to a phone call regarding the dead horses on the property. The Board discovered five dead horses and four sets of skeletal remains. Mr. Ross had a “killing field” for horses. Mississippi law requires dead “livestock” be buried within 24 hours, so Mr. Ross was charged a $1,000 fine for each of the dead horses. He could not be fined for the skeletal remains since the time of death could not be accurately determined. He also faced fines for each horse he removed from the property without a verifiable Equine Infectious Anemia test. He was ordered to provide the location of the horses he had moved.

Thanks to the action of the MBAH, coupled with the issuing of the seizure order, Mr. Ross complied the next day with the remaining 11 horses. The lone mule is still on the property and being fed.

All of the horses suffer malnourishment ranging from moderate to severe. Their bodies are covered in thousands of blood-sucking ticks (the veteran rescuers agree they have never seen such infestation) and rain rot (bacteria) so bad it has gone through their skin. Two of the horses, both mares, suffer life-threatening conditions due to starvation and neglect but both are starting to show small signs of regaining their strength, and we are hopeful they will live to enjoy a life filled with love and comfort.

Have a Heart Horse Rescue graciously offered to take on some of the horses to help with their rehabilitation. Seven of the horses are in their care. All the others are in foster care at multiple locations and are doing as well as can be expected. Now that they are receiving life-saving nutrition, the ticks are being removed by brushing. The emaciated state of the horses makes it dangerous to use chemicals that will kill the ticks, so brushing is the safest remedy. The rain rot will be treated slowly with antibacterial shampoos as the weather allows.

I wish to thank Doll Stanley and In Defense of Animals for always being ready to take decisive action to help animals who have no voice. There are now fifteen horses in Mississippi who have food in their bellies and warmth from the cold. I am also so grateful to IDA supporters.”