By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — It’s been one year since 19 mini horses arrived in rough condition at the MSPCA, rescued from a neglectful owner on a small farm in central Massachusetts.
After thousands of dollars in donations and countless hours of volunteer work, the horses are healthy again and living at new adoptive homes throughout the region.
The animals were among 32 mini horses rescued from a West Boylston farm in March 2012. They were found malnourished, laden with parasites and suffering from various other ailments. Their owner agreed to give up the horses to avoid felony animal cruelty charges.
The horses in the poorest health were taken to an Animal Rescue League facility in Dedham, and 19 were brought to the MSPCA at Nevins Farm on Route 28 in Methuen. At the time, the animals were fearful and resistant to human contact.
“Those initial days were very tough because we had these 19 new arrivals, all in very desperate condition, and we were already caring for more than 40 homeless horses,” said Melissa Ghareeb, who oversees barn operations at Nevins Farm. “But the community stepped up to the plate in a big way.”
MSPCA officials last year reported an overwhelming response from people looking to help the horses. More than $14,000 was donated toward the cost of their care along with food, blankets and hundreds of volunteer hours.
The horses were treated for intestinal parasites, lice and skin infections. Their damaged hooves and teeth were also repaired.
Seven of the horses were transferred to rescue groups in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. The remaining 12 were placed at private homes, according to MSPCA officials. The first horses left Nevins Farm in April and the last were adopted late last year.