BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Animal Services removed six malnourished horses Thursday from a residence in western Hernando County that billed itself as a horse rescue and adoption facility.
Animal Services supervisor Patrick Pace said officers responding to a complaint on Tuesday discovered eight severely underweight horses at the 2-acre Living Ranch facility at 14020 Tranquility Lane.
Although the agency was able to provide emergency food and hay for the animals, two of the horses had deteriorated to a point where a veterinarian determined they were unable to be saved. They were euthanized Wednesday.
Pace said his agency was unaware of the facility being operated by Jillian Medina and Jerry Conley before a visit about a week ago. On their Web site, the Living Ranch owners touted themselves as a "typical horse loving family."
The facility apparently operated mostly on donations and money earned from adoption fees. However, Pace said Medina and Conley told him that they were no longer financially able to support the animals and were being evicted from the property.
Medina said some of the horses had come to them malnourished, and that it took more time to get them to normal weight than they expected.
After awhile, he said, the couple became overwhelmed.
"We feel we've done what we could," Medina said.
"They eat every day twice a day. They get hay every day. In a month you can't put 400 pounds on a horse."
Pace said it appeared the animals hadn't been properly fed in some time. He plans to file a fitness petition against Medina and Conley, who still have one horse in their possession.
Living Ranch is the second animal rescue operation shut down by Animal Services in the past two weeks.
On Oct. 30, more than 200 animals were removed by court order from the nonprofit Our Animal Haus sanctuary in Brooksville after a county judge ruled owners Carol Mas and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, had failed to provide proper food and living conditions for the animals.
Pace said that the animals removed Thursday were taken to a facility operated by the Hernando Emergency Animal Response Team where they will be evaluated by a veterinarian.
No charges have been filed against Medina and Conley. The case is still under investigation.
Logan Neill can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1435.