Prosecutors have charged a Grady County woman with animal cruelty after investigators found a dead horse and two dozen more left to starve in a pasture.
Heather Shawna Scyrkel blames a recent hardship for the condition of the animals, but investigators found evidence that suggests otherwise.
"They didn't get in this condition overnight," Dr. Lyndon Graf of Marlow Veterinary Clinic said. He's treating more than two dozen emaciated horses seized from Scyrkel's Grady County property.
"The animals survived without food and water. In some cases, their health was so poor the horses struggled to walk. These horses have been malnourished for quite for some time."
Dr. Graf says the horses are being treated for worms, ulcers, mouth problems, and hoof issues.
Court records show the owner blames a recent injury, financial troubles, and car problems for neglecting the animals. Investigators say Scyrkel had no plans to give the horses proper care in the future.
Prosecutors charged Scyrkel with animal cruelty.
"There is always someone out there you can get assistance from," said Grady County Assistant District Attorney James Walters. "But once you turn your back and neglect these animals and leave them on property with no foliage and no water and let them suffer; well, then you've got a criminal complaint against you."
Walters says this case is just one of many across the state.
"That's been a big issue. People buy the horses cheap and have no idea what it costs to maintain them. They get into trouble and rather than call for assistance, they just turn their backs on the animals."
Walters says livestock prices are low and the cost of hay is high; a combination that can be deadly.
"It's the animals that suffer the most," Dr. Graf said.
There is an arrest warrant for Scyrkel, but she is not currently in custody. News 9 tried to speak with her about the complaint, but she did not return our calls. If the owner is unable to pay for the veterinarian bills and other expense, she will be forced to relinquish the animals.