Florida Horse Rescue Investigated

Florida Horse Rescue Investigated

County animal welfare authorities removed eight animals from Guardian Angels Horse Rescue in Dunnellon.

Photo: Marion County Animal Services

Animal welfare authorities in Florida are seeking those who have placed an animal with or adopted an animal from a horse rescue that is the subject of an ongoing cruelty investigation.

Guardian Angels Horses

County animal welfare authorities removed eight animals from Guardian Angels Horse Rescue in Dunnellon.

Elaine McClain, public information specialist for Marion County, Fla., said that on Sept. 25, the county's Animal Services Division responded to a tip about thin horses residing at the Guardian Angels Horse Rescue, Inc. in Dunnellon. Upon arrival, investigators discovered 20 allegedly maltreated horses residing on sparse pastures on the rescue's property. County animal welfare authorities later removed eight of the animals. Of those one horse was euthanized due to its condition, McClain said. The surviving removed animals were thin and in need of veterinary and other care, she said.

"We're still weighing the horses but some are as much as 400 pounds underweight, and some have pressure sores and open wounds," McClain said. "The horses also need dental work and farrier work."

The removed horses are receiving rehabilitative care under County Animal Services supervision, McClain said. The remaining 12 horses were left on the property with an order to provide care according to guidelines required by animal welfare authorities, she said.

The investigation is ongoing, but no charges have been filed in the case, McClain said.

Rescue operator Tabatha Quijano said allegations that the horses had no access to food or water are false. She also said she was cooperating with authorities during the investigation, but declined to provide investigators with surrender documents connected to the horses.

"I don't want to violate confidentiality agreements," Quijano said.

Quijano said she would fight any charges that could eventually be filed in the case.

As part of the ongoing probe, investigators are seeking anyone who has placed a horse at Guardian Angels Horse Rescue or adopted a horse from the operation, McClain said. Investigators are also seeking information about other pastures where other equines connected to the rescue might be residing, she said.

Anyone with information connected to the case should call the Marion County Animal Services at 352/671-8727

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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