Horse owners upset by reports of neglect

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More federal dollars for dredging and hurricane protection
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Bayou Region horse owners expressed emotions ranging from outrage to disgust this weekend on learning that 15 horses were found suffering from neglect in a Lafourche Parish field, in six cases so badly that they were euthanized.

Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives began investigating complaints of neglected horses on a Lockport property more than a month ago, eventually obtaining warrants that resulted in the arrests of a man and woman Nov. 29.

Property owners John Gautreaux and Pamela George of Cut Off were arrested and booked into the Lafourche Parish jail on one count each of aggravated cruelty to animals. Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre’s spokesman, Lt. Brennan Matherne, said George is president of the Lafourche chapter of the Louisiana Humane Society, whose mission is promoting animal welfare.

They were released after each posted a $2000 bond.

Both are listed in the Lafourche Assessor’s records as owners of the property on Chateau Drive in Lockport.

On Nov. 16 detectives found one horse dead on the property and 14 others in emaciated conditions. The detectives contacted a local veterinarian affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, and the surviving horses immediately received medical treatment, but two others had to be euthanized. Two additional horses died, and another had to be euthanized as well. Nine horses altogether were removed to a nearby property where they are being properly cared for, Matherne said.

Local horse owners were shocked and saddened by the ordeal the equines suffered. Some indicated that a downturned economy and other economic factors have resulted in difficulties for people wishing to keep horses but not being able to afford doing so. Unclear for now is who the horses actually belonged to, and whether they were being harbored for rescue reasons.

“It sounds like neglect to me,” said Laura Herring, a Schriever horse owner. “There are too many people out here who actually want horses and can’t find them.”

Upset at the thought of living creatures suffering, Herring stressed that like children, horses require feeding and care.

Acquaintances of the couple said in social media posts that the horses did not belong to George.

“Her property, her responsibility I say,” said Perrijean Prejeant, a horse owner from Gibson.

Horse owners noted that some people have had difficulty locating hay at reasonable prices, with the costs creeping up over the past five years. But they added that the cost is no excuse for horses not receiving nourishment.

“It takes a lot to starve horses,” Prejeant said. “They are not like little dogs.”

Prejeant explained that horses are grazers and have to eat regularly to survive; however, they can survive by eating grass. She added that while a cow needs 3 acres of grass, horses need an estimated one acre each.

With resources at the disposal of a woman with George’s position and background, Prejeant said, the tragedy should not have occurred.

Anne Parr, owner and manager of the Circle P Ranch in Schriever, said she was saddened by the news.

“The economy had a big dip in the last few years,” she said. “People found themselves in a place where they could no longer take care of them.”

Scarcity of hay in the region has been blamed on constant rains placing a strain on production. Tying hay into bales while wet can cause rot and mold, and the longer baling waits, the more nutrition the hay loses, horse owners said.

One of the best area’s best hay producers, Clay Pierce, recently died. A veterinarian, Pierce was known for producing high quality hay that won awards because of its nutritional value.

Wet weather plays havoc with horse welfare for other reasons.

“Wet ground is a brewery for foot disease,” said Parr, adding that proper stabling in a dry area prevents infection.