OKEECHOBEE — Since April 2, 23 horses have been cared for by Okeechobee County Animal Control and received medical attention worth in excess of $8,000 because of a criminal malnutrition/abuse investigation. After consideration of Florida statutes, the Okeechobee County Animal Ordinance and the fact that these are feral horses, Sheriff Noel E. Stephen has made the decision to allow “Horses Without Humans Rescue” (HWHR) of the small town of Bell, Fla., to adopt every one of the horses.
This organization was the first rescue that willingly wanted to accept all of the horses together. Therefore, HWHR was chosen. This agency is a 501(c)(3) animal rescue. HWHR will hopefully be able to calm and tame these beautiful animals for future adoptions.
For more information on adopting one of these horses, contact HWHR at 847-809-4093. Go online to horseswithouthumans.org to learn about it in more detail.
While in the sheriff’s office care, the horses have made a dramatic comeback, and it has been very fulfilling to see this progress, Sheriff Stephen said. While these horses will see greener pastures, the sheriff’s office will continue to pursue charges and proceedings against the person or persons responsible for this abuse.
Sheriff Stephen said his department will always do what is right for any animals that this agency comes in contact with or cares for.
He thanked everyone involved from the very start of this investigation.
On April 2, 23 horses were impounded by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office after they were found in distress on property out on the Prairie.
Manuel Coto-Martinez, 73, of Miami, was arrested May 4 by OCSO Deputy Christopher Tullio and charged with nine counts cruelty to animals and one count causing cruel death with pain and suffering. He was released on his own recognizance.