IONIA COUNTY, Mich. (March 5, 2014) — Several horses on an Ionia County farm will get examined by a veterinarian after abuse allegations, according to county officials.
The animals are housed on Barbara Walters’ Clarksville property. She rents out the farm to tenants that own several horses. She said the horses are so hungry, she watched them eat their own feces.
Walters owns two of the horses.
“Part of the agreement was for them to provide water and to make sure that [my horses also] had hay at all times. I had 20 big round bales of hay brought into the arena, and there’s 16 [bales] there. So all year long, they’ve had probably four bales,” she explained.
Walters reached out to FOX 17. She said her tenants aren’t taking care of any of the horses. FOX 17 spotted water outside in a tub that was frozen.
Walters said buckets inside the barn have very little water.
“This is the one I’m most concerned about,” Walters showed one of the horses.
“You can see the hip bone sticking up,” she pointed out.
As we looked at the horses, the tenants showed up.
“Hi ma’am. I’m with FOX 17. I’m here to ask you about your horses,” I asked.
“I have nothing to say,” Linda Collier replied.
“Are these horses being taken care of properly?” I followed up.
“Yes, they are,” Collier said, adding that animal control had been there.
The tenants then grabbed a couple bales of hay from a trailer to take into the stalls.
Scott Collier came home and agreed to answer our questions.
“She’s making false accusations. She’s lying. She’s trying to do everything and anything she can to make this into something that it isn’t,” Scott Collier explained.
“You’re saying this is not really about the horses?” I asked.
“No, because if it was. Why would she wait until now?” Collier replied.
He said his family cares for the horses and thinks Walters’ accusations boil down to rent money. He believes it’s part of a plan to get them evicted and move in higher paying tenants.
“I just really worry for these horses. I want to get them help,” Walters said.
Jill Fritz is with the Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition. Although she doesn’t know much about this case, she works to place neglected horses in better homes.
“Many of the cases that we’ve been involved in, have been cases where help was readily available to people, but they did not take it and they let their animals get into a bad conditions. And law enforcement had to intervene,” Fritz explained.
The coaltion can provide hay through a hay bank and also veterinary care.
“Our goal to help people keep their horses with them on their farms, and keep them in good health,” Fritz said.
Robin Anderson, the manager at Ionia County Animal Control, said that her department is investigating. She said a veterinarian will be sent in to asses the horses and determine if neglect has taken place.
Right now, these are only accusations against the Colliers. They have not been charged with anything.