description: chestnut Quarter Horse type mare
type of rescue: Animal Control seizure
intake date: 2/27/2011
date of death: 12/13/2011/
length of time with SAFE: 9 months
Brandy and her best friend Bud were surrendered to King County Animal Control and taken in by SAFE in February of 2011. Both horses were elderly and quite emaciated. With a lot of care, they regained their health and strength, and were living in a SAFE foster home, awaiting adoption. On the morning of December 13, Brandy ate her breakfast of mash and seemed fine, but not long after, she was found down in her pasture, sweating and in pain. The sudden onset of these colic symptoms led us to believe that she had a lipoma, which is a benign fatty tumor that can cause a twist in the horse’s intestines. This is somewhat common in both older horses and Arabs, and Brandy, at 37 years old, was both. Because she was in deep distress, we did not hesitate to have her humanely euthanized. Bud was at Brandy’s side through the entire ordeal, and even after she was gone, he stood over her body for a long time and seemed to be saying goodbye. We were worried that he would react badly to Brandy’s death, but he seemed very peaceful and accepting. Bud lived for another 7 months, until his declining condition and the long term effects of neglect led us to release him from this world and find peace.
Yesterday in King County Superior Court, a jury returned a guilty verdict on two counts of felony animal cruelty against the woman who starved and neglected Bud and Brandy. Here is their story.
The call came late on a Sunday afternoon in February…two elderly horses, starved…can SAFE help? Dr Hannah was on site with officers from King County Animal Control, and the horses were being surrendered by their owner. A quick decision was made — the two horses would go directly to NWESC for treatment, which would give SAFE some time to find a foster home to take them in. We hitched up a trailer and set off to meet Bud and Brandy.
The two horses were a mess…their long, scraggly starvation coats covered the worst of the damage, but underneath all that hair they were thin and bony. Brandy’s too-big blanket was removed to reveal a 4 cm long infected wound where it had rubbed against her withers, a wound that had gone untreated because her owner admitted she hadn’t removed the blanket in months. More evidence of severe neglect became evident upon looking into the horses’ mouths — their teeth, which had not been properly cared for, were not only incapable of chewing hay, but the long sharp points formed by uneven wear were carving sores and ulcers into the sides of their mouths. And an infected, loose tooth in Brandy’s mouth was causing her even more pain and discomfort. These two elderly horses — Bud was 32 and Brandy 37 — were living out their twilight years in pain and suffering.
They were too thin to sedate for normal dental work so Dr Hannah removed Brandy’s infected tooth as quickly as possible, and prescribed an all mash diet in order to get their weight back up. Slowly at first so as not to risk colic, their daily feed was increased over time until they were each receiving a giant bowl of alfalfa and grass pellets mixed with senior feed, beet pulp, and vegetable oil — soaked and watered down into a yummy, green porridge — twice a day. Slowly their weight started to increase, and their shaggy, starvation coats began to shed. It took months before they looked normal again, and poor Bud shed himself bald in places, but by late summer, the transformation was complete, and the two horses regained their health, their weight, and their spirits. Once they were stable enough to be sedated, they were both given dental care, but the damage done by their neglect was irreversible ..they would never be able to chew hay properly, so they would continue to be fed mush for the rest of their lives.
Having lived together for more than a decade, Bud and Brandy were very close…so close that any attempt to introduce other horses into their group met with Bud’s disapproval — he did not want anyone messing with his girlfriend! The two spent two months in Dr Hannah’s care and then were moved to a foster home together where they shared a large, grassy pasture — that they couldn’t eat but seemed to enjoy gumming on — and a cute barn where they could get out of the sun and enjoy their giant bowls of gooey green porridge. Later that year, they were moved together to a second foster home, where they became part of the KCJ Stables family. They spent their days under the trees in their sunny paddock, and nights sharing a shelter built for two. They were much loved by everyone at the farm, but probably no one loved them more than their Auntie Jet, who watched over them whenever she visited KCJ to ride and groom her beloved rescue horse Coconut.
In December 2011, Brandy had a severe and sudden onset colic. Surgery was not an option for this elderly mare, so she was quickly and humanely euthanized to stop her suffering. Bud was at her side when she passed, and seeing him standing over her was heartbreaking. But he seemed to make peace with her passing as he and the other nearby horses said their goodbyes. After she was gone, we worried about how Bud would adjust, but the brave and plucky old man made friends with his young neighbor Basil, and the two of them started a new friendship over their paddock fences, and Bud seemed quite content. Over the next six months, he continued to eat his mush and doze in the sun, and some days he’d even set off at a canter across his pasture, kicking up his heel a tiny bit just because he could. He got older, and creakier, and in June 2012 when his health truly started to fail, we made the decision to let him go. Bud passed away peacefully, surrounded by friends who truly loved him. We miss them both, but as winter sets in, it’s good to know that Bud & Brandy are together again in the great beyond, where it’s always warm and there’s always enough food to eat, and proper teeth to eat it with. And no more green mush, ever.
We are so grateful to the officers of Regional Animal Services of King County who stepped in and removed Bud & Brandy from their former home, and we commend the hard work and dedication shown by the King County Prosecutors who fought for and won this guilty verdict against the woman who starved these graceful old horses. It means a great deal to us to know that in the eyes of the law these two horses were not forgotten. They certainly won’t be forgotten in our hearts.
Rest in peace, Bud and Brandy. Justice has been served.
Photos of Bud and Brandy’s remarkable journey:
On the morning of December 13, Brandy ate her breakfast of mash and seemed fine, but not long after, she was found down in her pasture, sweating and in pain. The sudden onset of these colic symptoms led us to believe that she had a lipoma, which is a benign fatty tumor that can cause a twist in the horse’s intestines. This is somewhat common in both older horses and Arabs, and Brandy, at 37 years old, was both. Because she was in deep distress, we did not hesitate to have her humanely euthanized. Bud was at Brandy’s side through the entire ordeal, and even after she was gone, he stood over her body for a long time and seemed to be saying goodbye. We were worried that he would react badly to Brandy’s death, but he seemed very peaceful and accepting. Bud continues to do well, surrounded by other horse friends that keep him comfortable and by his wonderful foster family at KCJ Stables, who truly care for him.
Bud & Brandy (aka: B&B) have been in their current foster home in Federal Way since late July. They spend their days just hanging out and occasionally chatting over their fence line with the young (27 years old) gelding next to them. While they don’t do much but graze & nap, their foster family says they’re no trouble at all…in fact they’re very pleasant to be around. They seem to enjoy the occasional field trip to the big barn for events like farrier day as long as they go together! They’re off the beaten path of the main barn activity but they seem quite content to enjoy their peace and quiet.
They’d make an adorable addition if someone just wanted a great view out in your back pasture but you’d have to take them as a set. I can’t imagine one without the other!
Here’s a few updated photos to enjoy…
Bud and Brandy are doing well in their new foster home in Sammamish. Bud is almost completely shed out, but Brandy is still holding on to some of her winter coat. They are both eating their mush well and also have 5 acres of lush pasture to munch on. Bud looks great for his age, and is still quite spunky — Brandy looks much more her age of 37. Bud is a bit sassy — getting a bit of an attitude now that he is feeling better…but generally he really enjoys grooming and attention, he just gets a little grumpy if you stop grooming him before he thinks he is done!
Here are some updated photos that Sara took last night:
Bud and Brandy came to us on February 27th after being surrendered by their owner to King County Regional Animal Services. While we cannot share any details of their situation as there is a case pending, we have been given permission by the county to begin releasing photos and updates on these two horses to our supporters. While they are still in rehabilitation, they will be made available for adoption once they are in a healthy weight. As these two have been together for over 15 years and are incredibly bonded, we would love to see them go to a retirement home together. Currently, they are in a foster home in Sammamish where they are enjoying 5 acres of lush pasture to themselves, and they are also on a free-choice mush diet since neither of them can adequately chew hay anymore. Due to their age they are past their riding years, but they are broke and would probably be fine for occasional leadline rides for children.
Bud, approx. 32, is an Arab/QH gelding. As the update photos show, when he began shedding his winter coat this spring he did not immediately grow his summer coat in, and was bald in patches (we’ve seen this frequently in horses that have been neglected), and actually looked a bit worse for a while. I can happily report that his summer coat has come in and he is looking much better. He’s also gained a significant amount of weight since even these photos were taken. Bud is a sweet old man, easy to catch and loves attention. He is a little more high strung and nervous than Brandy, and prefers to be right at her side or following right behind her. We tried putting a couple of other horses in with the two of them — Corona and Sinatra — but Bud is extremely possessive of Brandy and does not like to share her with other horses, so they do best just the two of them separately. Bud has had his teeth (what is left of them) floated and had his tetanus. Dr. Hannah does not recommend any other vaccines for either of them at this point due to their age.
Brandy, approx. 37 years old, is a QH mare. Her winter coat was extremely heavy and thick and has taken a bit longer to shed out, but she does have a normal summer coat coming in underneath. As you can see from the photos, the wound on her wither from her blanket that she came with has completely healed. Brandy came to us with an infected tooth which Dr. Hannah was able to extract without sedation (as she was far too underweight to handle sedation). She has since gained enough weight to have a normal dental float. Brandy is much more laid back than Bud but also more standoffish. She often doesn’t think that she wants to be caught (see photos of her running in the pasture before we were able to catch her), but once caught she is sweet and has very good ground manners.
SAFE has taken in two senior horses (25+) surrendered tonight to King County Animal Control (we were told the mare is 37, the gelding is 33, but Dr. Evergreen thinks they are not quite that old, but definitely over 25). They are currently in SAFE’s care and are being housed at NWESC. This is an open active animal cruelty case, so information is limited. The two horses were taken from a property in Woodinville tonight. The horses are both very thin and in poor condition. Their teeth are in very bad shape. The mare is also suffering from a fairly severe wound to her withers from an ill-fitting blanket that was put on in November and not removed.
Right now these horses are in temporary custody of King County and SAFE/NWESC is merely housing and caring for them until the resolution of the case.