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Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Two of the 11 horses rescued from a farm outside of Vergas. Six other horses were found dead. Criminal charges are pending against the owners.

11 horses, three llamas rescued from Vergas farm

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Inhumane conditions resulted in law enforcement seizing 11 horses and three llamas from a farm six miles southeast of Vergas last week. An additional six horses were found dead on arrival. One of the rescued llamas, a baby, later died at the rescue ranch from complications with septicemia, probably due to a lack of colostrum, which is found in a healthy mother’s breast milk. Criminal charges are pending against the owners of the farm, Bill and Penny Fick. The rescued animals were taken to High Tail Horse Ranch and Rescue near Hawley, Minn. to begin a long road to recovery. There were six quarter horses, a draft horse, a pony, an Arabian and two paints. In an interview with Charlotte Tuhy, owner of the High Tail Horse Ranch and Rescue, the animals were in, “various stages of hunger, and underweight. Some of them are in quite a bit of pain.” Tuhy described the rescue operation as “challenging.” She and volunteers from the ranch worked on the rescue with the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department and the Minnesota Humane Society. The animals’ first couple of days on the ranch consisted of thorough evaluations and veterinary visits. A strict feeding plan was also developed, depending on the needs of each animal. Through the evaluations, it was determined that at least two horses are in, “dire need of dental care,” Tuhy stated in an email to the Focus. Also, “there are two who really need chiropractic care; their backs hurt so much that they do not even want to be touched at the site.” The good news is that, since the animals have been rescued, “they are getting better,” said Tuhy. This is the second multiple horse rescue in the area in recent months. In another incident in November, 11 neglected horses were seized from a farmstead just north of Perham. Tuhy said this is likely happening because the weather is working against animals this year – deep snowfall prevents horses from grazing and last summer’s drought conditions made hay scarce. She also said public awareness is on the rise, and thus more people seem to be on the watch for neglectful situations. The High Tail Horse Ranch and Rescue could use help caring for and feeding these horses. The organization needs hay and other feed donations, and could also use more volunteers to help care for the animals and the barns. For more information, contact Charlotte Tuhy at 701-526-3734 or email chart@loretel.net.

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