MD rescue steps up to help PA horses

A Maryland horse rescue that specializes in draft breeds has stepped up to help a humane society in northwestern Pennsylvania overwhelmed with the seizure of 30 farm animals from a negligent owner.

Volunteers with Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy, Md., drove 300 miles to Warren County, Pa., last week to pick up six of the 13 horses found starving and in ill health in March.

They went home with seven horses, including Belgians and a Percheron, all of them in bad shape. Among their problems: parasite infestation, mange, lice and hoof issues. They were all underweight and one young horse's growth was stunted by poor health. A two-year-old Belgian colt was the size of a healthy 8-month-old, said the rescue's found, Christine Hajek.

The good news, Hajek said, is that the horses are friendly and show no signs of physical abuse. "They were severely neglected but they haven't been beaten," she said.

The horses belonged to a family that showed draft horses in driving competitions before they ran into financial trouble, Hajek said.

In all 30 animals were seized from the farm, including 10 cows and six cats. Farm owner Darcy Durlin pleaded guilty to four summary counts of cruelty to animals for failing to provide sustenance, water and clean living conditions.  His two sons pleaded guilty to two counts each, according to the Warren Times Observer.

The newspaper reported Durlin paid restitution for the horses' care to the local humane society, but Gentle Giants received nothing. The road to rehabilitation for several of these horses will likely be a long and costly one. If you would like to sponsor one of the rescued horses, make a donation or learn more about Gentle Giants click here