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Whidbey community rallies to save neglected horse

A North Whidbey horse owner could be facing animal cruelty charges after a resident reported that a 5-year-old Paint, call name Maverick, was too thin with ribs showing.

Island County Animal Control, with the assistance of the Sheriff's Deputy John Faught, was able to seize a malnourished horse without incident after securing a search warrant with the assistance of County Deputy Prosecutor Kailyn James.

Animal Control officers Carol Barnes and Peg Diefert investigated the call and, based on their investigation, observed the horse, Maverick, and opined the equine was clearly undernourished and neglected.

If his behavior didn’t betray his medical needs, Barnes said, the protruding ribs spoke volumes the horse was promptly taken into protective custody.

A group of dedicated horse volunteers quickly responded and assisted in transporting Maverick to a humane, local horse rescue facility where he is currently rehabilitating with proper nutrition and medical care.

Robert Moody, an Oak Harbor equine and large animal veterinarian, provided an emergency medical exam on Maverick and will perform additional follow-up treatment.

"There are still medical and nutrition concerns to address while Maverick continues the rehabilitation process," Barnes said.

Skagit Farmers Supply immediately offered support by donating much-needed orchard grass hay and several bags of grain.

"I want to personally thank them for their help and I know Maverick will enjoy their donation as well," Barnes added.

The investigation is ongoing and the horse's owner is facing pending charges for animal cruelty in the second degree, which could result in a maximum fine of $1,000 or 90 days in jail, or both.

Maverick will remain in protective custody for the duration of his rehabilitation. The healing process is expensive and animal control is in desperate need of financial assistance to continue care until the trial has concluded.

Donations to help ease the financial burden for veterinary costs and nutritional needs can be made at any Whidbey Island Bank branch in care of “The Horse Rescue Trust Fund” or items can be donated at the Oak Harbor or Freeland Skagit Farmers Supply stores.

For any questions, please contact animal control at phone number 679-7398.

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