MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County Sheriff's deputies are investigating an animal abuse case regarding allegations of horses being neglected, starved, and living in their feces. A horse rescue group called “Dark Horse Rescue” says this abuse is common and it's only getting worse.
The owner of the horses, Robert Murray, says they have the whole thing wrong. Murray wasn’t happy when ABC24 News called him about the story. He says his 7 horses are just fine but when we asked to see them he refused.
As word got out that ABC24 News was going to do the story Murray removed all of his horses from the stables 2 days before we arrived.
TC Stables was where he housed them and the property owner, Tommy Crum, says those horses were in very bad shape.
"I know two of them were really pitiful,” said Crum. He said you could see all of the horses’ ribs. “Their hip bones were sticking up too.”
Not only that, but Crum says Murray's horses were living in piles and piles of manure.
“He had a horse in here until yesterday afternoon. The horse disappeared last night and I'm sure this stable hasn't been cleaned in a year,” Crum told ABC24 News.
Robert Murray says his horses are fine and it's not his fault the stables were never cleaned.
"They never cleaned my stalls because most of the time I get off work at 7,” Murray told ABC24 News by phone. “My horses were never starving. I checked on my horses everyday.” The argument heated up after I asked to see the horses. "Ma'am I am at work, I don't have time for this s*** that they're coming up with."
Crum says he's been hearing that same story for the past 4 months, and it breaks his heart.
"He swore to me and said, 'Mr. Crum I'm going to have all my rent paid up and all my stables clean before I leave here.' Well the stables are knee deep and he's gone and he still owes me money,” said Crum.
The Shelby County deputy investigating this case is on vacation until next week. Dark Horse Rescue wants to take Murray's horses but doesn't have the resources or the money.
"We have a backlog at Dark Horse Rescue of over 60 cases that are being currently investigated,” said the rescue group’s veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Dunlap. “We've had at least 30 horses come in through Dark Horse this year either through the effects of neglect, starvation, or abuse."
Dr. Dunlap says the laws have to change to protect these animals.
"Unfortunately, the laws are not quite to speed yet to protect the horses. They're still considered livestock so the charges end up being tiny misdemeanors,” she said.
Robert Murray promised to ABC24 News we could see his horses Saturday. We will let you know if he keeps his promise.