CARROLLWOOD, Fla. - A Carrollwood woman faces charges of neglect after one of the worst cases of horse starvation veterinarians have ever seen. Wednesday, three more of her horses were confiscated.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office plans to charge her with neglect.
Equestrian Inc., the rescue group taking care of "Jolie", brought the horses back to their barn Wednesday morning. They are building stalls for the starved animals, as they were already at capacity with 35 other horses.
Blood tests also show that Jolie's kidney function is improving, and she is now able to eat more. Her chance of survival continues to increase.
Viewers are generously donating to help with medical costs, and Equestrian Inc. is very grateful for the support.
Many of the horses at Equestrian Inc. spent years racing, but that's not why they are neighbors today.
They live side by side because most of them once raced death, and perhaps none as obvious as 8-year-old Jolie.
"She lived in someone's yard. They saw her every single day. I don't understand how you can see this and sleep at night," said Equestrian Inc. President Lauren Dudley.
A thoroughbred, Jolie weighs about 600 pounds, only half of what she should. Volunteers at Equestrian Inc. say they've watched the horse deteriorate over the last year, and notified HCSO.
"We've offered her money. We offered her $500 for the horse," Smith said. "She wouldn't even sell her to us."
Last week, a detective found her in a woman's front yard, and began an investigation. According to HCSO, the woman claimed she was feeding the horse, and couldn't afford veterinary care. She willingly surrendered her.
Because Jolie's body has already metabolized all of its fat and begun digesting muscle, Jolie's recovery is slow and precarious. She can only eat one-quarter of what a horse her size should eat. Volunteers watch her all day and night, because when she falls over, it takes five men to pick her up.
"We don't know that she's going to pull through, but she does have the will to live, and the desire to eat, so we've got to give her a shot," said Equestrian Inc. Founder Glenda Smith.
Veterinarians call Jolie the worst case of starvation they've ever seen.
Her owner still has three more which the rescue group's fighting to obtain.
HCSO plans to charge the woman, but needed expensive blood work to do confirm neglect. Five days of vet bills now top $1,000, which is money the rescue didn't have, already at capacity with 35 other horses
"We knew she didn't really have any hope left," Dudley said. "This place was the only hope she had."
That hope is still dim. Jolie's vet estimates she only has a 30% chance of surviving, but volunteers hope the thoroughbred might have one last race in her.
"She deserves to have the chance," Smith said. "She wants to live and she should be given the opportunity to do so."
Anyone interested in helping with Jolie's medical costs can donate at Equestrian Inc. or mail checks to:
Equestrian Inc. Equine Rescue
4902 Timberlan St.
Tampa, FL 33624
Jolie's progress is updated regularly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/equestrianinctampa .