On December 9, 2010, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team arrived at a farm in rural Fulton County, Arkansas, to rescue more than 100 neglected horses. Most of the horses were starving, and many had open wounds, untreated fractures, infections and other ailments.
The ASPCA, called to the scene after a seven-month investigation by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, immediately set to work to provide the horses with food, water and veterinary care, and has continued to work day and night to care for the horses. Many team members missed holidays with their families to stay and care for the horses, and the group even endured severe Arkansas weather to ring in the new year by the animals' side. “There is no doubt in any of our minds that this is where we belong—we owe these animals a second chance,” says Kat Destreza, ASPCA Southeast Director of Field Investigations and Response.
The team’s round-the-clock work mucking and stripping stalls, maintaining a strict feeding and watering schedule, and administering medications (and lots of carrots) has paid off. Most of the horses are responding well to veterinary care, and they’re regaining strength every day. “The horses are still under quarantine and are not yet available for adoption,” says Kyle Held, ASPCA Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response, “but we’re hoping once they become available, the community will open their arms and offer these beautiful animals permanent homes.”
As 2010 drew to a close, the horses’ owner, horse trader Rodney Kankey, was charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty—five of them felonies. Each felony carries a penalty of up to six years in prison. On December 30, an arrest warrant was issued for Kankey. Coincidentally, on the same day, a deputy police sergeant from nearby Boone County responded to a call of a break-in and theft in progress and arrested Kankey at the scene. Kankey is being held in Boone County without bail on the Fulton County animal cruelty charges.
"We appreciate the diligence of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in pursuing this case and bringing appropriate charges against the owner of these horses,” says Held. “Animal cruelty should not be tolerated in any community, and we’re pleased that Kankey was held accountable for blatantly neglecting his animals.”
To learn more about this animal cruelty case and to support the work of the ASPCA FIR team, please visit the Fulton County Equine Rescue page.