SOMERS TOWNSHIP (WITI) -- Kenosha County Sheriff's officials say they've received dozens of phone calls this week from people concerned about a pair of horses. The callers believe the animals are being neglected -- but Sheriff's officials say in this case, the owner of the horses has become a victim.
Kenosha County Sheriff's officials say the owner of two horses named Memphis and Star -- living at a horse stable in Somers Township is seeking temporary restraining orders against two people who are accused of trespassing onto the property and feeding the horses without the owner's consent -- apparently believing the horses aren't being taken care of.
Sheriff's officials say over the past few days, they have responded to the horse stable located at the northwest corner of County Highway E/12th Street and 100th Avenue after receiving about three dozen animal abuse complaints.
Several deputies have checked the property and the welfare of two horses being boarded at the horse stable. Each time, deputies found that the horses have protective blankets on them, proper food, a heated water trough, and shelter from the wind.
On Wednesday, January 6th, a Kenosha County Sheriff's Department patrol supervisor personally visited the property with a certified large animal veterinarian.
That veterinarian agreed that the horses appeared to have healthy coats, appeared well hydrated, had adequate amounts of quality hay with a proper enclosure. The horses, in the professional opinion of the veterinarian, appeared to be well taken care of. There has been no evidence of animal abuse whatsoever related to these horses. This fact has been documented in several reports -- according to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department.
However, in spite of these findings, Sheriff's officials say there have been individuals who have chosen to trespass onto the property and attempt to feed the horses without the owner’s consent.
Sheriff's officials say this has been largely organized by two individuals in particular who are using social media (Facebook and Craigslist) to perpetuate their beliefs that abuse is taking place.
"I wanna believe they think they`re doing the right thing but I don`t think they completely understand horses and other animals have lived all their lives outside in the elements," Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said.
The owner of the horses has received several threatening phone calls and is actively seeking temporary restraining orders against these two individuals.
"Ridiculous, stressful, insulting and exhausting," Lisa Edwards, who owns the horses says of the ordeal.
One of the woman against whom Edwards wants a restraining order is Cindy Schultz. She runs the Saint Francis SPCA.
In 2011, FOX6's Contact 6 did a story looking into complaints about the way Schultz ran her own Kenosha County shelter.
As for the horses, Schultz says she was only acting on tips she got from concerned horse lovers.
She issued the following statement to FOX6 News:
There are two horses are in an open field with no access to shelter in 30 degree below zero wind chills. The Kenosha County Sheriff believes that this is adequate as long as the horses are wearing jackets. The horses are being kept in this manner solely at the discretion of the Kenosha County Sheriff. If the public disagrees with the sheriff, the public has a right to express its concerns and to complain. If the horses succumb to the weather, Sheriff Beth will have to answer for his decision to ignore the public's concerns and the law.
"We`re answering their questions. We`re letting them know we took care of it. We checked into it. We brought a vet out to make sure everything`s fine with them," Sheriff Beth said.
The other individual Edwards is seeking a restraining order against is Maureen LaGuardia. FOX6 News talked with LaGuardia over the phone on Thursday. She insists all she did was call the Sheriff's Department after seeing the horses outside. However, according to police records obtained by FOX6 News, LaGuardia told an officer she went to the property and fed the horses hay.
Edwards says she's upset someone would accuse her of neglecting the horses she's owned for the last 15 years.
"I love animals and I went to school to learn how to take care of them and for someone to insult me like that, it`s just really hurtful," Edwards said.
A Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputy has been posted at the property due to the fact that the animals are now being placed at risk from eating food not suitable for horses.
Meanwhile, the Global Conservation Group based out of Watertown is claiming that despite the assurances from the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department that the horses are fine, they feel the horses are being mistreated.
They've created a petition at Change.org to collect signatures to stop the horses from being kept outside.
UPDATE: As of 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 8th, the Global Conservation Group issued this statement to FOX6 News:
"Just 24 hours after launching our campaign in an effort to provide adequate shelter for neglected horses, nearly 3,000 people signed our petition, called the Sheriff's Department and shared our action alert. Your effort paid off! The two horses in Kenosha County, Wisconsin are now safe and secure in a barn. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless."
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates.