A local horse that sparked outcries of abuse from many around Mid-Michigan has been euthanized after a photo was circulated by thousands on social media.
The photos were initially posted by Zack Kolaja and shared more than 6,000 times on Facebook.
"We could see its ribs. The rib cage,” Steve Kolaja said.
Kolaja couldn’t believe his eyes when he drove past the three horses on Barnes Road in Millington. He said he immediately had to stop and check on them.
"We went over and took that water can over to the horse and he lifted up his head and was almost choking as he was taking a drink,” Kolaja said.
Kolaja said the horse's hooves were so overgrown it couldn’t walk. He added he saw sores on its back. He said the other two horses looked like they had not eaten in a while.
Kolaja said he tried to confront the owner.
"I asked him ‘When is the last time this horse has had water?’ He said recently. I said that's not true because the water is thirty, forty feet away from him,” Kolaja said.
On Monday, Sept. 18, the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department said they investigated the issue and the horses were under the care of a veterinarian.
"They don't want all the attention. They are cooperating with their vet. They have obtained advice from their vet on how to take care of them. They are doing everything they can to make sure they are well taken care of,” Sgt. Michael Mattlin said.
Mattlin wouldn't give the vet’s name, but he said the horses had been seeing a vet in Frankenmuth for over a year and a half. Officials also said when the horse was checked on by the county it had food, water and shelter.
However, on Tuesday, Sept. 19, a Tuscola County Prosecuting Attorney issued a statement saying after another examination by veterinarians, the decision to euthanize the horse was made. During the afternoon hours of September 19, 2017 a local Veterinarian in conjunction with a Field Veterinarian of the Michigan Department of Agriculture jointly examined an approximately ten year old horse in Millington, Michigan. Following the examination, after consultation with the owner, the horse was euthanized. The horse had been under a prescribed course of treatment for a lengthy period of time due to a medically diagnosed condition. Officers with Tuscola County Animal Control and the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Department were involved with this investigation.The sergeant is urging everyone to leave the horses, the owners, and the property alone.
The sheriff's department said deputies are investigating a complaint by the property owner that someone trespassed on his property. Officials said the person opened a gate allowing other animals free and then poured water on the horse and frightened the owner's children.
Kolaja said his family is happy the horse won't have to suffer anymore.
"It's a sad situation, and its too bad it had to come to this. I believe that if things would have been handled differently, by the proper authorities and by the owners, we wouldn't have been in the situation we ended up with here," Kolaja said.
So far, it's doesn't appear the owner will face any charges.
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