RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Kentucky man has been charged with two counts of felony ill treatment of animals after two horses he owned died.
After a year-long investigation, Gordon "Cappy" Wheeler, 46, was arrested in Arizona and transported to Richland County this week to face the charges. Bond was set at $20,000, which was posted Thursday.
Investigators with the Richland County Sheriff's Department were called to a property Wheeler was leasing on Community Pond Road in Eastover in March 2016 after a one-year-old horse was found dead.
"The animal had been dead for several hours or more," reads the incident report. "It appeared to be extremely malnourished and underweight."
RELATED: See photos of the horses
As a result of the investigation, about 40 horses were taken from the property and put into the care of South Carolina Awareness and Rescue for Equines. Two of the horses, a Saddlebred filly named Lilly, and a Thoroughbred mare who had just foaled named Patti, died.
"Several of the horses were at death's door," said Jan Carter with SCARE. "They just weren't getting any care."
One foal, a Hackney pony named Hercules, was in such poor shape he couldn't stand.
Carter said the horses and ponies seized were Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds and Hackney ponies. Since they were recovered from the farm, SCARE has found homes for all of them.
Some have recovered and are doing well at Dream Equine Therapy Center in York, SC.
While caring for the horses, SCARE went through 1,000 pounds of hay per day.
"We spent thousands of dollars on hay and grain and vet services on this case," Carter said. If you would like to donate to help the rescue assist horses in need, you can click here or send a check to South Carolina Awareness and Rescue for Equines, 312 Shetland Lane, Lexington, South Carolina 29079.