PERU — When Barb Smith came across the horse named Beau, she thought he was a dead horse walking.
The stallion was malnourished, sick and starving when Miami County Animal Control officers seized him from a couple who had been neglecting the animal for months.
“These people loved their animals, but they got so wacked out on drugs they weren’t thinking,” Smith said. “Beau was a walking skeleton. I thought he would just live out the summer and I’d have to put him down in the winter.”
But that didn’t happen. Smith took the horse to her own farm and began carefully monitoring his diet. She hired a farrier to come by and trim up his hooves.
Within a few months, Beau was gaining strength and putting on weight under Smith’s watchful care. Pretty soon, the horse was well enough for a family to adopt him.
Now, Smith said Beau gets treats nearly every day from his new family, and receives plenty of exercise from the kids taking him out for rides.
“He was thin and narrow and now he’s thick,” Smith said. “He’s a real dependable and reliable horse to be around.”
But Beau’s recovery had a price tag — a price tag the county didn’t pick up. Miami County’s animal control only funds the seizure, care and adoption of dogs.
That’s why Smith and Susan Kulla, director of the Miami County Animal Shelter, helped found the Miami County Horse Guardians.
The group of volunteers raises funds to help pay for the rehabilitation of horses seized in the county by animal control officers, and educates people about how to properly care for the animals.
“If a horse is starving, we take that horse right on the spot,” Kulla said. “But you can go through hundreds of dollars helping just one horse. Usually their feet are terrible and vets aren’t cheap.”