ETOWAH CO., Ala. (WBRC) - Etowah County Sheriff says a horse whose photos were circulated on Facebook over the last few days, has died, and there will be no charges filed.
The photos show the horse lying in mud, leaving people in the neighborhood and Facebook users throughout Etowah County to believe he was being treated cruelly or at the very least, was the victim of neglect.
Sheriff Jonathon Horton, says the horse was actually a racehorse with an injured leg. He says the owner, who lives in a part of Boaz that extends into Etowah County, and a local vet had been caring for the horse for days.
Horton says the horse apparently contracted EPM or Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, an equine disease that can lead to paralysis, from some hay it had eaten, and apparently died from that disease.
“Had it been that the owner was beating the horse, dragging the horse, malnourishing the horse, but in actuality, the man was doing everything he physically could to take care of this horse,” Horton said, addressing the cruelty allegations while also explaining why the man wouldn’t be charged.
Horton says the man painstakingly documented the care he gave the horse, even shooting videos.
EPM is often contracted through the urine of possums or raccoons.
Horton says the animals are often attracted to large rolls of hay, much like the hay the owner left to feed the horse.
He says the man also had trouble getting help to move the horse, and that the New Union Volunteer Fire Department and the Albertville Mayor's Office even reached out to help.
“There were plenty of people reporting him, but nobody reaching out to help him,” says Horton.