Okeechobee County Animal Control officers seized six horses Wednesday and arrested their owner, 38-year old Melissa Fralix.
The arresting deputy wrote in his report, "The horses were so thin that I could see their bones and their heart beating."
Four of the horses are now roaming the pasture at Animal Control.
Another horse and her foal are under veterinary care. The veterinarian who examined them said they were on the verge of death.
Animal control officers also seized a litter of puppies that had pneumonia.
"The whole thing of owning an animal means it's your pet," says Detective Ted Van Deman of the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office. "If an animal is your pet, you are obligated to take care of that animal and apparently she was not either willing or able to take care of these animals."
Friends of Fralix say investigators have it all wrong...that she is taking care of the animals. They showed buckets of feed and containers of water for the horses. They said the skinny horse belonged to a niece and was brought to Fralix for care and to gain weight.
It's not the first time Fralix has been investigated because of the condition of her animals.
In 2008, two of her horses had to be euthanized because they were suffering from malnutrition. A judge found her not guilty of animal cruelty.
Animal Control officers plan to take her to court again. They hope to bar Fralix from ever owning animals in the future.
Officers say the horses will be auctioned and the puppies put up for adoption once they're nursed back to health.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Local News Stories
Get the latest news from your neighborhood on our Okeechobee County homepage.