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Neighbors worry Liberty horses are neglected

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LIBERTY, N.C. -- People who live near Kimery Lane in Liberty are worried about the condition of three horses living on property nearby.

The neighbors reported to FOX8 that they don't believe the animals are getting enough food, water and exercise.

FOX8 took pictures and video of one horse in a pen visible from the road, but the other horses were in a stable on private property.

"If you've got pets or animals, you should take care of them," insisted one woman. "As you see the horse pen now--it's been worse. I've actually seen the horse eat its own feces."

She and other neighbors tell FOX8 they've been trying to bring hay and feed to the animal when possible.

The animals' owner is Donna Burkhart. She lives in High Point, but according to property tax records, Burkhart owns the Kimery Lane property.

Burkhart would not go on camera, but told FOX8 she "goes to check on the horses every single day."

Animal Control officers are very familiar with the Kimery Lane property.

"It is under investigation and we do have charges. We have had several complaints on the property in the past two to three years," said Leigh Casaus, Director and Supervisor at Randolph County Animal Control.

"We investigate every call we get. We got a call [about the Burkhart property] in March and made... made a shocking discovery."

The discovery, Casaus said, had nothing to do with horses on the property but involved miniature donkeys. "There were two removed from the property earlier in the Spring," Casaus explained.

Animal Control filed felony charges against Burkhart for animal cruelty and neglect related to the donkeys.

Casaus could not elaborate on the condition of the donkeys they found because the case is pending for Superior Court. Casaus appeared before the grand jury last week.

So far, there has not been enough evidence to seize the horses, Casaus added.

"The horses actually have to be in danger and we have to be able to prove they're in danger and that they're being neglected."

The neighbor we talked to said, "I would love to see this horse before it dies be able to get into a grassy pasture and run."

She said she's never seen the horse out of the muddy pen in more than five years.

"Hopefully, once we get our day in court, there will be justice for all the animals," added Casaus. She sent an animal control officer out to the property Tuesday to check on the horses again.

"They are still not considered 'dangerously slim,' so we can not take them. The area the horse is being kept in is less than ideal with the mud and feces. We still have concerns about that and left notices to the owner to move the horse to a more suitable location. We will also try to make face-to-face contact with her."

FOX8 will continue to follow the felony case and neighbors have promised to keep an eye on the horses.