LEBANON, Tenn. - Several residents in Wilson County have been concerned after a neighbor found a horse's carcass.
After he sent a photo to several other neighbors, they went out to investigate.
One man showed NewsChannel 5's Alexandra Koehn an area on the edge of his property where he found a horse's skeleton off Belotes Ferry Road.
He said he believes part of a fence was damaged, and the horse came to his property looking for food and water.
"They just roam, and then we'll not see an animal, and then we'll see buzzards. And we know one is gone."
The neighbors wanted to remain anonymous.
They said they have been filing complaints for a year after seeing horses that appeared to be in poor health with no shelter.
"So when you have no meat on your bones and you're exposed to cold, you're going to break down slow. You're going to freeze."
Over the weekend, one of the horses reportedly died.
"I feel like everybody let it down."
According to the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, deputies have been investigating.
Lieutenant Scott Moore issued the following statement:
"We are investigating the case and have been out to the residence. Contrary to reports on Facebook, we do take these cases very seriously just like any other case. The State Department of Agriculture has been contacted and will be responding next week. The other horse(s) at the house do currently have adequate food and water. The horse in question was very old. Steps are being taken for proper disposal of the body and case is being looked into.”
However, neighbors said the horse and donkey on the property were still alive because they have taken turns feeding them.
"You see them eating garbage. When you see a horse eating a dead possum, you know it's hungry."
NewsChannel 5's Alexandra Koehn went to the property to ask the owners for comment, but she was asked to leave.
So as concerned citizens wait on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to come out, they're wondering if these animals will survive.
"If you can't take care of it, you just don't need it."
Once the investigation was completed, the owner was cleared of the abuse allegations. Officials said the horse was in "reasonable health" and was being cared for properly.
The Wilson County Sheriff's Office released the following statement in a press release explaining their findings.
...The inspector documented in the report that the body conditions of each animal was of reasonable health, proper shelter/protection from the weather is being provided, and that all livestock had access to fresh water and appropriate forage/feed to support normal body functions. The report also added that each animal was receiving appropriate and timely care and that each animal is in good body condition.
Concern about the current animals arose after the picture of the deceased horse went viral. The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, due to the allegations, immediately contacted the Tennessee Department of Agriculture after arriving at the residence to ensure that each animal was being properly taken care of. A deputy responded to the residence and stated in the report that “I observed the horse and the donkey in a fenced in field, and both appeared to be in good health. In the same field that the animals were located in was a plentiful food source, shelter, and several water sources.” The owner rescued the deceased horse several years ago because it was in bad condition and had nursed it back into good health.
The owner was given an amount of time by the state to dispose of the horse by way of composting or by burial. The report also stated that the cause of death is unknown but did not appear to be from starvation.