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By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
A woman who volunteered to take in two horses found with jutting ribs said people must have no idea what it costs to keep a horse.
“They think, ‘Oh, I’d like to have a horse. How cool,’” said Glenda Dagenhart, officer manager at Morgan Towing and Recovery. “But have no thought on what it costs to feed and care for a horse.”
Two sick horses, and a dead horse were found in a pen at about 7th and Kalamazoo streets Friday evening.
The small enclosure did have shade and a tank for water — but the tank was bone dry.
The ground was mostly dirt and scrub and there was no hay in sight.
Animal Control Officer Nita Pearce said the dead horse most likely died from lack of water.
“When it’s 106 degrees out and there’s no water, no grass at all, it’s no wonder it died,” Pearce said.
Morgan Towing and Recovery was called to pick up the sick animals. A towing company is typically called to pick up rescued livestock, Dagenhart said.
Dagenhart has been taking in rescued horses for a few years. But caring for malnourished horses is something she does only as a service to the city and county.
Dagenhart can’t take in horses people simply don’t want anymore because of the expense involved, she said.
And the chances of the horse owner showing up to claim the two picked up Friday is slim, she said.
The landowner told police he does not own the horses and does not know who is responsible for them, Pearce said.
Without an owner to pony up the fees for towing the horses, shelter and feed, Dagenhart loses money.
“A horse eats 18 hours a day, and you have to feed horses every day,” Dagenhart said. “These had no grass whatsoever, no food, no water — no nothing.”
A horse has to have hay, some kind of roughage and water, she said, unlike cattle that only get fed in the winter and fend for themselves during the summer.
The extreme heat the area is experiencing makes horse-ownership even more demanding.
“My water tank usually lasts a week and I’m filling it up every other day,” Dagenhart said. “And hay is pretty expensive right now.”
The two mares that Dagenhart took in Friday are doing much better already.
The sorrel mare had sores and cuts all over her body and her ribs were sharply defined. The bay mare was in a little better shape, Dagenhart said.
Both horses need to be wormed and have their hooves trimmed, in addition to extra feed to help them gain weight.
She estimated the mares to be about 3 years old, and said they could each stand to gain a couple hundred pounds.
Dagenhart has taken in several horses over the last few years, she said, though usually during the bitter cold of winter.
She boards the horses taken by animal control, and if they are not claimed, she has to find a new home for them or sell them.
“Right now, though, you could take these mares to the sale barn and only get $25 a piece for them,” Dagenhart said. “But I think they’ll both make nice horses for someone someday.”
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.