“Malnourishment doesn’t happen overnight, why oh why don’t these idiots ask for help? Too much trouble like their animals, so instead just wait for them to die?? Those that knowingly starve any animal; should be severely punished, they have voices don’t they??”

ASHEVILLE — The bad economy is partly to blame for an increase in abused horses across North Carolina and the nation, a horse rescuer said Thursday.

Two people face charges in Buncombe County in the case of a horse that starved to death, according to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.

Daryl Cody Dillingham, 22, and Connie Lynn Wheeler, 32, are charged with felony animal cruelty in the death of a paint mare in Barnardsville.

Both were scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

An animal control officer was called to investigate a complaint about neglect on April 18 and discovered the dead horse.

Joanie Benson, executive director of the Horse Protection Society of North Carolina, said it is common to find owners giving horses away or selling them at low cost because they can no longer afford them.

Benson has 45 horses on her farm in China Grove. Her operation runs on donations and volunteers.

The federal government, in a 2011 study, said some states reported a 60 percent increase in horse abuse cases from 2007 to 2009.

A healthy horse can cost a minimum of $300 a month and having $1,000 in reserves for vet bills is a good idea, she said.

Throw in saddles, leads, food containers, horse shoeing and dental work and the cost quickly skyrockets.

Benson said owners who are struggling should act quickly.

“Before it gets serious at some point you have to wake up and realize you can’t afford this horse and find a home for it,” she said.

In Haywood County on Thursday, Toney Martinez was scheduled for a hearing before a judge on a misdemeanor cruelty to animals charge for the death last year of a 6-year-old stallion named Bucky.

He died of a massive worm infestation, said Karen Owens president of Star Ranch, a rescue operation in Waynesville.

Bucky had never been treated for worms. He died with his head on a pillow and a volunteer beside him at her ranch.

She was hoping for a conviction.

“Something that sends a message instead of saying it doesn’t matter what you do to your horses,” she said.

News Link:-http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20130531/NEWS/305310014/