A Rock Island County man is under investigation after horses were found shockingly thin and underfed on his farm.
On Wednesday afternoon, Roger Schone of Schone's Friendship Farm in Milan, Illinois, brought four of the horses back to his rehab center. They joined eight others, which Schone has had for more than a week, all from the same farm. Many of them are extremely skinny; Schone estimates some are several hundred pounds underweight.
"Probably four or five of them are really, really bad," said Schone.
Though disease-free, the horses have an assortment of other problems -- overgrown hooves, cuts, and a skin infection called "rain rot."
The horses' owner's name is not being released yet because state and county authorities continue to investigate the case. Charges, though, could be filed as soon as next week.
In the meantime, the horses are being given a nearly around-the-clock diet of special feed. The mistreatment is likely another side effect of this summer's drought. Hay prices have skyrocketed, and more and more owners can no longer afford to feed their animals. Now, it's the Schone's who will be footing the bill.
"The ladies in the barn and Deb and I will be spending some money on this. Horses need care and that's what we need to do. They can't fend for themselves, so we've got to help them out," said Schone.
And Schone credits the public with getting horses like these the help they need.
"Watch your neighbors, watch when you're driving for skinny horses, because hay is so expensive this year that a lot of people can't afford the hay. We can have a lot of eyes out there; call us, and we'll investigate," said Schone.
If you're interested in donating to the horses' care or adopting one, you can contact Schone's Friendship Farm at (309) 787-9422.