Abused Horses Find Peace at Virginia Sanctuary


MIDDLEBURG, Va. - "Terk," as she’s affectionately called by her handlers, was one of five horses seized from Robert Bir when Jefferson County Sheriff and Animal Control officials charged him with 15 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

"Those of us in the business of equestrian investigations use [a scale of] one to nine: one being the absolutely worse, this horse is going to drop down and die, and nine being this horse is so fat, it could also fall down and die,” said Denise Lambiotte, an Animal Control Supervisor with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, and who’s overseen Terk through the investigation.

Out of that scale, Terk was scored as a two.

Along with being severely malnourished and underfed, Terk had a slew of other health problems.

"She’s not had a good life recently,” said Lambiotte. “I mean this is a horse that was a race horse. She ran 18 races back in her day. Then she was retired, and became a broodmare, and she produced nine foals."

After months of rehabilitation, Terk was relocated to her final home at the Evelyn Alexander Home for Animals in Middleburg, Virginia. The privately funded, equine sanctuary only takes horses that are 25 years or older, and are victims of animal cruelty.

"Our goals on that is to free up some space so that the municipalities can continue to do the work that they do, seizing cruelly treated horses,” said the sanctuary’s director, Deborah Turner. “By taking the older horses that they can't adopt out easily, we give them more room to take in more animals."

The sanctuary started four years ago and currently houses 38 horses. Turner, who was an animal cop for years in Huston, Tx., saw her fair share of animal cruelty cases. She says now she has her dream job.

"Some of those [cases] I still have nightmares about. So to be able to take them in, rehabilitate them, and give them the sanctuary that they need, it's like completing the entire circle,’ said Turner.

The other four horses that were seized from Bir are still being rehabilitated, as they await new homes.

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