A Florida horse rescue is facing a criminal neglect investigation. Two equines were donated to RVR Horse Rescue in late January by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), but deputies say the horses remained malnourished while in the rescue’s care.
As deputies continue their investigation, the law enforcement agency has filed a petition with the court asking for permanent ownership rights of the two horses. The civil filing also seeks to keep the rescue and its founder, Shawn Jayroe, from “further ownership, possession or custody of any animals in Hillsborough County.”
Officials seized the mares, Valentine and Flower, from RVR Horse Rescue on April 2nd after negotiations for the rescue to voluntarily surrender the horses were allegedly unsuccessful. Documents state the bay Arabian and pinto Tennessee Walker were “extremely skinny, grossly underweight and malnourished.”
Court documents state the mares were not being fed by RVR Horse Rescue according to the refeeding plan recommended by multiple vets, including the rescue’s. Additionally, the group is accused of not providing necessary and recommended medical care for the horses. Vet reports state Flower never received antibiotics, anti-inflammatory therapy, diagnostic blood work, a fecal float, and a body clip when she was fighting a persistent fever. Both horses never had their vet suggested teeth floats.
After the horses’ seizure, they were taken to the University of Florida for a complete exam. Veterinarian Martha Mallicote, DVM’s report states both horses are malnourished. “Valentine’s body condition is poor (grade 2/9). Based on our physical exam, there are no medical reasons for her to be thin other than lack of feed.” She states, “Flower’s failure to thrive is due to a lack of appropriate nutrition rather than her remaining lung abnormalities.”
Documents state Surgi-Care Center for Horses veterinarian Leann Kuebelbeck DVM, DACVS told authorities the mares should have gained more weight – one to two pounds a day if the rescue followed their recommendations. Dr. Kuebelbeck said they recommended that the horses be fed alfalfa hay and Senior feed, and if they were being fed anything other than that, it was against their orders.
Detectives say they learned from the rescue’s volunteers the equines were getting half a cup of Senior feed, twice daily, but not the recommended cup. Additionally, they were being fed a half cup of Sweetina feed twice a day, which was not part of the refeeding plan. The rescue was reportedly feeding coastal hay instead of the veterinarian recommended alfalfa hay.
“We have had a good relationship with RVR Horse Rescue, but we have to protect the horses,” says HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon. “We want these rescues to succeed, but if this was Ms. Smith in Riverview and we didn’t act, I’m telling you.”
Despite multiple attempts to reach someone at RVR Rescue, our messages were not returned.
The civil matter is scheduled to be heard on April 30. If custody of the horses is relinquished to the HCSO the horses could go to another horse rescue to continue their recovery.
The criminal investigation continues.