PIERPONT — A holiday disaster has turned into a countywide animal rescue, Ashtabula County Dog Warden Donna Yan said, leading to the removal of dozens of animals from a Pierpont Township property last week.
At least two people were injured when a loose horse was struck by a car on Route 167 on Dec. 23, Ohio State Highway Patrol reports show, and now Yan and local veterinarian Becky Salinger are looking for homes and support for chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigeons and horses.
“This was a really unfortunate situation,” Yan said. “A horse was killed, people were hurt, and then the rest of the animals were abandoned.”
Animal owner Jose Flores was cited by Yan on Dec. 20 for animals at large, court records show, just days before the horse was struck and killed. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $150 in fines.
“(Flores) has been cited for animals at large before,” Yan said. “His horses and his goats have caused accidents on roads over the last few years. This has been an ongoing issue.”
Yan, who obtained a warrant on Friday to take possession of Flores’ other animals, said the Ashtabula County Humane Society agents had warned Flores about his wandering animals several times.
“After this latest incident on Dec. 20, (Flores) told administrators at Eastern County Court that all his animals were off the property, so I never thought to go back and check on them,” Yan said.
After the horse was killed on the road, Yan discovered Flores’ barn was still full of critters. Flores had abandoned the property for the week, she said, leaving the animals with no food and no water.
“They went at least a week without anything,” she said. “Those animals need to be in a better place.”
Yan said Flores did not surrender the animals and may face more charges.
Yan described the animals as “thin and in need of help.”
“These were animals from the auction, so they were probably purchased skinny and then nothing was done to get them back to health,” she said. “They are nice animals and they need great homes.”
The menagerie, handled now by Salinger, includes five horses — three Halflinger crosses and two miniature horses — eight rabbits, eight ducks, eight chickens, a goat, a pig and pigeons.
The goat, pig and pigeons all have permanent homes, Salinger said, but the horses, which have temporary housing, need a permanent place to stay.
Donations to pay for food and veterinary care is being collected by The Austinburg Mill. Checks made payable to the Austinburg Mill, can be sent to 1816 Mill St., P.O. Box 466 Austinburg 44010 with “dog warden farm rescue” written on the memo section of the check.
Donations can also be made at the Austinburg Veterinary Clinic on Route 45. Anyone who wants to help or shelter animals can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will absolutely need hay and feed for the horses,” Salinger said. “The animals need veterinary and hoof care, they need help.”