Animal Control concerned over state of horses in pasture

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. —

York County Animal Control is investigating after some horses were found apparently starving on a farm outside Rock Hill.

On Monday, Animal Control officers were at the owner's house on Harmony Road. They told Sam Ludlam to put all of his horses under a veterinarian's care immediately because all 28 of them tested positive for parasites, and two were severely malnourished.

"This horse has a week to live, maybe two," said Debbie Staley, who runs an equine sanctuary outside Salisbury, N.C.

She just saw pictures of the horses that a neighbor posted on Craigslist, and drove down to York County to see them.

"This is just a horror to me. I almost don't have words," Staley said.

A neighbor called Animal Control this weekend after driving down harmony road, and seeing the horses in a field.

Diane, who didn't want to give her last name, also saw them.

"I said, 'Oh Lord, some of these horses are starving to death,'" she said.

Channel 9 spoke with Ludlam, who owns 28 horses in a pasture, and admits that two of them are in poor health.

Ludlam told Channel 9 he accidentally was improperly worming the horses for a while. He said horses need to have a rotating set of medication for worms, but he was not rotating them properly. Now, he said he's working with Animal Control to correct the problem.

"This is not any issue where I was intentionally doing anything wrong," Ludlam said. "I'm trying my best right now."

Ludlam said there is another motivation for the reports of animal neglect on his farm, many of them posted on social media sites.

He said a bitter child custody battle between his son and ex-girlfriend is the reason that some of these accusations are being made against him.

"There's not a doubt in my mind," he said. "This is all about my grandson, who's 3 years old."

However, Animal Control is continuing to investigate, and does have an action plan in place requiring Ludlam to improve the health of his horses.

There was hay on the property Tuesday afternoon, and the horses were eating. Ludlum severely injured his arm six weeks ago on the farm, and said he hasn't been able to do much with his animals, but he denied neglecting them.

"I have nothing to hide from anyone. I've raised horses and cattle all my life," he said.

However, some neighbors were outraged that Animal Control did not seize any of the horses Monday.

Animal Control Director Steve Stuber said his officers did not think that was necessary. Instead they will closely monitor the horses, and give Ludlam time to get them healthy.

"He has a very short period of time," Stuber said. "We will be going out there again to check."

York County Animal Control investigated Ludlam in 2009 when one of his horses died in a pasture.

He said it suffered from severe skin cancer, and could not be saved.

Animal Control said that case against Ludlam was unfounded. He currently does not face any criminal charges, or citations.