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Rescued horses recovering after starvation

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

MOULTON — Twiggy, a rescued horse named after the iconic ’60s supermodel, no longer fits her nickname.

Lawrence County Animal Control Officer Carolyn Atchison rescued Twiggy and four other malnourished, abandoned horses in December 2006. At the time, Twiggy was in sad condition, said Atchison.

The 2-year-old Arabian horse weighed 287 pounds — more than 400 pounds less than she should have, said Atchison.

Atchison immediately named her Twiggy after the thin model because she had “never seen anything that skinny before except that girl.”

In the 21/2 months since her rescue, Twiggy is regaining her health and has packed on more than 200 pounds.

Atchison said, though she is happy with Twiggy’s progress, the other horses have gained much more weight.

Raven, a rescued black stallion, now weighs more than 800 pounds, about 300 pounds more than when he was rescued.

“Twiggy just can’t gain weight as fast because she was literally skin and bones when we found her,” said Atchison.

Community donations

Much of the horses’ renewed health is because of donations from the community.

Derrick Brown of Decatur, Jerry Campbell with the cattlemen’s association, Melanie MacDonald, Lanier Sivley with Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Farmers Co-op in Decatur have all made significant donations of hay or sweet feed.

Twiggy and Raven will never have to worry about their next meal. The 4-H Club of Marshall County agreed to sponsor the two horses last week.

“They collected 15 bags of feed for the horses, and as food runs out, I’ll contact them,” said Atchison.

One of the girls in the 4-H Club, Mandy Henderson, is the daughter of Marshall County animal control officer Mike Henderson.

“They wanted to do something for the community, and he said ‘What’s a better idea than sponsoring an abandoned horse?’ “ said Atchison.

Because of a lack of county funding, Atchison depends on group and individual donations.

“You can’t blame my county because we can’t take every starving animal out there and feed them,” she said. “But I’m spending about $35 a day out of my own pocket to keep them fed.”

A bale of hay feeds two to three horses for a day. Each horse also requires about one-half gallon of sweet feed daily.

Atchison said she plans to keep Twiggy and Raven, and will likely put the other horses up for adoption.

“The other three are in really good condition right now, so when the time comes and we found out what happens legally, I might adopt them out,” she said.

Atchison and Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officials began investigating the horses’ owner in November after receiving anonymous reports of malnourished horses at Lawrence County 170 and Lawrence County 309.

The Sheriff’s Department charged Joyce Kirby Peacock of 6603 Lawrence County 150, Courtland, with misdemeanor animal cruelty Dec. 18, 2006, for not feeding and for abandoning the horses.

The maximum penalty if convicted is up to one year in jail. A felony animal cruelty charge pertains only to dogs and cats.

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