By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – When Becky Mounts and her family went for a drive together last month, they were looking for horses frolicking on the hillside. What they found was a lone abandoned horse, starving and left to die.
The Mounts family has always been passionate about animals. Becky and her husband, Daniel Mounts, own a popular dog grooming establishment located in Williamson across from the Appalachian Regional Hospital after-hours clinic. Their job involves taking care of their beloved canine clients every day.
However, they never bargained for taking care of a horse.
The horse, which they named Maddie, was found in the Pike County area on May 25. Upon first glance, she seemed like any other horse that might be grazing along the roadside.
Upon closer inspection, Mounts saw that Maddie was covered in flies and a massive sore, which was large enough to stick a finger in. The horse was emaciated, with protruding ribs and a belly swollen from what seemed to be starvation and neglect.
Maddie, who was covered in so many flies they were swarming inside of her open, infected sores, stood before the family, shaking from pure exhaustion and sickness. She seemed closer to death than life in that moment, and the family felt unanimously heartbroken over the situation they had encountered.
According to Becky Mounts, the decision to take the mistreated animal home was a no-brainer.
“I felt like I was going to throw up,” Mounts said. “I knew we were taking her home. I remember thinking to myself, I will walk her home if I have to. It was a terrible feeling, seeing her in such a state. We just couldn’t leave her there. Then we saw she had shoes on, which meant that, at one time, somebody owned her. They owned her and left her there to starve to death.”
What’s more, it was later determined that Maddie was 10 years old and approximately 100-200 pounds underweight.
Mounts reached out to her Facebook friends, looking for help to get her home. Maddie was too sick to walk very far, and she was still shaking from the flies that were eating at her eyes and wounded flesh.
Mounts’ pleas for help via social media worked – several friends of the family began to reach out. Dennis and Tiffany Gibbs even provided a 16-foot box trailer to help Maddie make it home.
When Maddie was taken home, Mounts immediately began to clean the open sores that were covered in those unrelenting flies. Maddie was so weak she didn’t have the strength to so much as wince in pain.
The Mounts family has seen an outpouring of support on behalf of their newest family member. Two members of the local community, Dusty and Shane Smith, donated $20 from their “cold water challenge” to the Mounts to help Maddie recover. Savannah Newsome, a 12-year-old neighbor, has helped immensely with taking care of Maddie as well. Savannah has made treats and helped clean and play with Maddie on a regular basis.
Michelle Dunley provided a list of information regarding nutrition and helping Maddie gain weight, which Becky Mounts says proved to be extremely helpful.
Antibiotics were purchased, as well as the proper food and medication for Maddie’s open sores. With time, and a lot of love and patience, she slowly began gaining weight, becoming stronger, and even acting like a completely different animal.
Regarding whoever left Maddie on that lonely roadside, Becky Mounts has some stern words to share.
“They need to go to jail,” she said. “How would they like to feel starved and abandoned? They need some sort of punishment for what they’ve done. People need to consider if they can take care of these animals before they take them in. Can you take that horse? Can you feed her? It can’t be about just wanting an animal, you have to be prepared to care of it.”
Despite the long journey the Mounts family has had, more interesting news has sprung up. It appears that Maddie had a swollen belly, not just due to starvation, but because she is very pregnant.
They felt the baby kick recently and, according to research they’ve done, Maddie may give birth any day.
At the end of the day, Mounts says she isn’t looking for fame or glory.
“We don’t want any credit. We want to spread awareness,” she said. “People need to realize that these animals can’t take care of themselves. They can’t go to the store and buy themselves food. If you don’t leave them water, they can’t find any. It is awesome that there are people out there who love animals, but unfortunately there are so many people who neglect them.”
To report an incident of animal abuse or cruelty, please go to www.humanesociety.org or contact your local authorities.