Man facing charges in case of burned, starved horse - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Man facing charges in case of burned, starved horse

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Steed greets Whisper at LEARN on Thursday. (Chris Hauff/WCIV) Steed greets Whisper at LEARN on Thursday. (Chris Hauff/WCIV)

By Stefanie Bainum
sbainum@abcnews4.com

MEGGETT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Elizabeth Steed could barely control her emotions when talking about Whisper. She says he was severely abused, and when she first saw him, his skin was still burning.

The burned and starved horse is now getting the care he desperately needs. Whisper is a three-year-old horse activists say was abused, severely dehydrated and only 24 hours away from death.

He was rescued from a farm in Berkeley County last Thursday. The owner, who Berkeley County Animal Control officials have yet to name, is facing charges related to claims he didn't provide food or water for the horse, or adequate care. Penalties for each charge include a fine of more than $1,000 or up to 30 days in jail.

"He's fighting. He wants to live. I get choked up. He has that will," said Steed, founder of the Livestock and Equine Awareness and Rescue Network (LEARN).

"He (the owner) had poured something on that horse's back that was toxic, and the horse was actually still burning," Steed said. "This is certainly the most horrific injury case that we've taken in -- something that was inflicted on the horse by a human. This is the worst we've ever seen, and I've been doing this for 30 years. So, that says a lot."

Whisper was given to Steed after she said Berkeley County Animal Control didn't know what to do.

"We don't have the education out there for the public, the animal controls, and the counties, and in this day and age, that should not be the case."

Steed said she would like to see an animal control facility built in the area for large animals, and equine protection laws enacted so things like what happened to Whisper, never happen again.

"This was not a fresh wound. Obviously he had been suffering for some time," Steed said. "The stench, he smelled like he was already dead. Horrendous."

Whisper will have his scars for the rest of his life, and he's not the only one.

"To be honest we all will. All of us have been here with him. We are all going to have scars from this," Steed said.

Whisper's treatment will cost about five to eight thousand dollars, and is expected to last three to four months. Steed said funding is difficult in this economy, and they need all the support they can get since they are a private animal rescue group.

If you would like to donate to help Whisper and other rescued horses, you can donate at LEARN's website, or to the LEARN Horse Rescue fund at any First Federal of Charleston Bank branch.

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