Local News

Treatment of horses called into question on Harnett County farm

Posted May 5, 2008 7:19 p.m. EDT
Updated May 5, 2008 8:37 p.m. EDT

— 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.