Neglected Oak Harbor horses nursed to health

An Oak Harbor woman, Robin Vess, is facing 42 counts of animal cruelty charges.

Vess is accused of neglecting her horses to the point of starvation.

Now the animals are getting constant care and delicate attention. Experts say their condition was so bad that recovery will take about a year.

The Ottawa County Humane Society says the 30 plus horses they rescued Friday were freezing, starving and scared.

"I'm a cruelty investigator so I see a lot of things that are bad but this one has brought me to tears four days in a row," said Nancy Silva, Ottawa County Humane Society.

By Monday, the horses are finally calming down, settling in to their quarters at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds and letting volunteers get close enough to measure their weight and body condition.

One horse nutritionists look at is about 350 pounds underweight.

"You could see all of her ribs, you could see all of the didgets on her spine and she had started to deteriorate muscle mass to try and meet her nourishment requirements," said Gayle Reveron, Cargill Animal Nutrition.

The horses will be on a special eating plan: basically to introduce food back into their systems.

"We'll be mixing it with equal parts warm water almost like a baby food so that they can readily digest the feed and absorb the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that they're lacking," said Reveron.

Dozens of volunteers are spending 12-13 hours a day caring for the horses. The volunteers say they just wish they could have helped sooner.

"It's disturbing. It's upsetting, it's disturbing and there's no need in it. There's too many people in the horse community no matter what county that if you call they will help you," said Carol Parker, volunteer.

But officials say perhaps these horses' owner somehow did not realize she needed help.

"She still thought everything was alright and there were four dead horses laying there--one a baby," said Silva.

Nursing the horses back to health will cost upwards of $10 thousand.

If you would like to help, you can donate money and supplies to the Ottawa County Humane Society.

The Anchor Inn in Oak Harbor is also holding a raffle to benefit the care of the animals.