11 starving horses rescued, owners charged

By Jeff Ferrell - bio|email

MANSFIELD, LA (KSLA) -  We have more information on the animal cruelty case involving nearly a dozen horses in the Ark-La-Tex.  Discovered during the search for a wanted fugitive, the starving and malnourished horses are now recovering.

Authorities found the horses on Wednesday (08/12/09) behind a mobile home just outside of Mansfield, Louisiana in DeSoto Parish.  After law enforcement officers could not find the man they were looking for, officers turned their attention to those sick horses.  They have since been transferred to a farm in north Bossier Parish, and a farmer who helps the Bossier Sheriff's Office in such cases.  We visited both sites to get the whole story.

Exposed ribs are the most obvious signs of neglect involving those 11-horses, as their recovery process begins.  Cpl. Adam Ewing of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office recalled, "we noticed one of them in particular was kind of leaning against a wall and wouldn't move."

DeSoto Parish deputies arrested 19-year old Jermichael Jones on two counts of cruelty to animals and later picked-up 54-year old Gloria Gillis at her job in Bossier City, on 11-counts of the same charge.

We quickly learned that this was not Gillis' first rodeo.  "She had a bench warrant for loose livestock and also cruelty to animals," added Cpl. Ewing.  He said Gillis faced a similar case involving horses and added, "they lost 'em but got 'em back through the court system."

We went to Gillis' property just outside Mansfield where investigators had rescued those starving animals two days before.  Gloria Gillis was not home.  But we eventually did speak briefly with someone through a front window, who promptly told us to leave the property and we did.

On Thursday, a veterinarian went to that farm in north Bossier Parish to check on the emaciated horses, and said they will all be okay.  The farm's owner told Bossier Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Erin Habich about the squalid conditions in which they were found.  "He said that those conditions that he saw were the worst conditions he'd even seen," quoted Habich.

Habich described how the horses had been kept on concrete platforms in very small stalls behind Gillis' mobile home.  "Covered in manure.  One of the horses had been rolling and laying in it.  One even was eating another's manure because there was no food," continued Habich.

Habich said the horses will stay at the farm until they fully recover.  "And then whenever the judge says that they're healthy enough they will be sold at auction or they will be adopted out," concluded Habich.

©2009 KSLA-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.