Malnourished horses abandoned by the highway, left to starve by owner

Lorynn Monroe-Rainieri and her sister, Traci Monroe-Valdez, corralled the horses and kept them in Lorynn's backyard until police arrived.

A pair of abused horses are headed for greener pastures after being rescued and turned over to a nurturing caretaker, who will try to find the equines a better home.

“It appeared the owner of both horses dropped them off in the middle of the road and left,” a press release from the Morgan Hill Police Department states.

Morgan Hill multi-service Officer Tim Moon responded at 10:30 a.m. July 20 to a call from nearby resident Lorynn Monroe-Rainieri, who noticed two mares wandering around the middle of Murphy Avenue in east Morgan Hill.

“She was worried (the horses) could be hit by a car, and moved them to her back yard until the police arrived…they were clearly in very bad shape,” said Traci Monroe-Valdez, who helped her sister, Lorynn Monroe-Rainieri, keep an eye on the equines until law officers arrived. 

The mares – who drank more than 20 gallons of water after being rescued – were malnourished and in need of immediate medical attention, according to the MHPD press release. 

“They were pretty skinny,” recalled MHPD Sgt. Shane Palsgrove. “It looked like when you’re watching TV and you see those commercials for abused animals… those horses would have definitely had a place on a TV show like that.”

There are currently no suspects or leads in this case, according to Palsgrove.

“At this point, we have no idea who the horses belong to,” he said.

Moon and Palsgrove suspect the exponentially skyrocketing prices for hay and alfalfa played a possible role in the horses’ abandonment. Feed prices have spiked from $8 a bale 10 years ago to somewhere between $17 and $20 today.

The supply blight has caused animal control officers to notice the impact in Santa Clara County, where the average annual tally of stray horses jumped from four to 25 in the last year according to Albert Escobar, Animal Control Program Supervisor for the Santa Clara County. Escobar said the problem is even worse in Los Angeles, where animal control officers are discovering horse carcasses around Los Angeles County.

“The bottom line is that people are finding the cheap way out and just dumping them loose,” said Escobar in early March. “It’s sad.”

The July 20 incident is the first time that starving horses were turned loose to fend for themselves in Morgan Hill, however.

The mare and her 2-year-old filly now have a second shot at a better life after being turned over to DreamPower Horsemanship, a nonprofit Morgan Hill organization that provides therapeutic horsemanship programs to special-needs children. Many of the equines at DreamPower are rescued horses.

The nonprofit’s executive director, Martha McNiel, will hold the horses for the required 14 days prior to adopting them out to a suitable home.

“I am calling them ‘Naomi’ and ‘Ruth’ after the Biblical heroines who were also homeless for a time,” wrote McNiel on DreamPower’s Facebook page. “Both are severely emaciated, but sweet and friendly.”

McNiel also wrote that the horses were discovered in the early morning by a woman who spotted the animals in an empty field, close to U.S. 101.

“There are no horse properties close by that they could have escaped from, and no one in the area had seen the horses before,” McNiel wrote. “It seems most likely someone drove the horses to that field and turned them loose during the night. Very sad.”

Once the mares arrived at DreamPower, a veterinarian gave them a welfare exam and discovered the horses had stomach worms – but not enough to cause the equines’ gaunt condition.

For now, the horses will remain at the ranch, where they will be nurtured back to health.

For more information about DreamPower Horsemanship or to donate, click here, visit the organization on Facebook or call (408) 686-0535.

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