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Treatment of horses called into question on Harnett County farm

Posted May 5, 2008

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— Some people in Harnett County say a woman who claims to rescue and care for ailing horses is mistreating them.

“There have been days at a time I've seen these horses not have a mouthful to eat,” Timmy Huff said.

In September, Timmy and Bonnie Huff began leasing a pasture and stables on Oakview Lane, just off Elliott Bridge Road, to Tammie Montiel.

Montiel heads the Private Equine Animal Rescue Sanctuary or PEARS, a group funded primarily by donations

"The next thing I know, she has 25 horses here," Timmy Huff said.

It is Montiel's job to rehabilitate old and sick horses. The Huff family said the horses are not being cared for, however.

"I think that she should be shut down. I don't think she should be allowed to have any animals. I don't think she should be allowed to have a cat," Kim Perry, the Huffs' daughter, said.

They say that three horses were in such pitiful shape, the owner had them removed last week. The Huffs and other people with whom WRAL spoke with said Montiel has made threats.

In response, the Huffs said they are evicting Montiel on Tuesday.

When a WRAL camera crew approached Montiel's barn Monday, she first demanded that reporter Bryan Mims leave, but then decided to talk.

"I do not abuse my horses," Montiel said.

She even showed WRAL around the pasture. Montiel admitted the horses looked bony and malnourished, but only because they have diseases, like cancer, she said.

"There is a medical reason for their weight," she added.

Harnett County animal control officials don't expect to file animal cruelty charges. They have conducted unannounced visits and said they have seen improvements in the horses' conditions.

Animal control supervisor Tino Medino declined an on-camera interview, but he said Montiel is doing the best she can for the horses.

At one point, Montiel had 25 horses; she is currently caring for 11. She said that if she is not able to care for some of the horses, she will send them to other rescue groups.

If she is evicted Tuesday, she said she plans to send the horses to her stables in Sanford.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • proud-bleeding-heart May 6, 2008

    I want to know a vet's opinion.

  • doodad May 6, 2008

    In Montiel's defense, with Congress passing a bill to ban the slaughter of horses intened for human consumption and shutting down three processing plants (2 in Texas and one in Illinois) combined with the 2007 drought, there are many horses who are subject to being malnourished and abandoned by owners. The older horses will be emaciated because they have lost most of their molars and can not chew.

  • doodad May 6, 2008

    "they have diseases like cancer"

    I doubt that. Maybe their teeth need to be floated or they are older and have lost their molars or they have been fed improperly for so many years that they have digestive disorders, but not cancer. Chances are, if their haircoat is shaggy and rough, they are wormy and malnourished.

  • Scubagirl May 6, 2008

    if the horses are in fact sick all it takes is a vet examining them to determine truth or not. Lets hear from a vet before deciding they are sick or not.

  • Doctor Dataclerk May 6, 2008

    I say slip Mr. Ed in there to find out what is really going on day to day.

  • tmedlin May 6, 2008

    taking care of a healthy horse is a huge committment, one that many people take on and then realize they can't handle, especially if there is sickness involved. She probably had vet papers on the horses if they were ill and she's an angel for taking them in, if that's the case. no good deed goes unpunished...

  • beachboater May 6, 2008

    Harnett County animal control officials don't expect to file animal cruelty charges. They have conducted unannounced visits and said they have seen improvements in the horses' conditions

    Sounds like Animal Control is checking and not finding anything wrong. Not finding anything wrong, and not charging are really not saying the same thing.

  • crckttsgr May 6, 2008

    "but everyone wants to put it their two cents and 'convict' this woman"

    Now that you have also put in your 2 cents, I'll add a few pennies more. I have not convicted anyone. I simply made a statement of fact......anyone who abuses an animal should be made to live in the same conditions with the same treatment.

  • freedomrings May 6, 2008

    If she's really mistreating them, then she should be prosecuted. However, I'm sure there's more to the story. She says she takes in abused and diseased animals, so some of them probably *are* malnourished for those reasons.

  • docbarqh May 6, 2008

    ive been to the property and looked at a horse being boarded there by military personel. they were being sent overseas and needed to sell. the mare and her colt were both in bad shape and were paying a large amount of board to feed and care for them. no , i dont have all the facts. just know what i saw and was told by the horse owner at that time. sad situation.