DAYTON — When Jax first came to Rory Ridge Rescue Inc. in 2019, he was in dire condition, according to Tracey Anderson, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Templeton, Armstrong County, facility.
Anderson added he was malnourished, had bad hooves and was suffering from a condition called “rain rot,” which is a skin infection due to excessive rain and mud that causes horses’ hair and skin to peel off.
Jax was one of six horses removed Aug. 31, 2019, from a property outside Dayton in Wayne Township, just west of the Indiana-Armstrong county line. They were all near death from poor nutrition and care. One of the horses died from its condition in 2019, but the remaining five have recovered and are “thriving,” Anderson said.
“They’re all at great condition.”
While Jax is under the care of RRR, two are under the care of the Second Chance Equine Association, while the remaining two were sent to Whiskey Acres Sanctuary in Clarksburg.
Anderson said Jax’s recovery started “immediately,” with a special refeeding program introduced through a veterinarian.
She said due to Jax’s previous malnutrition, the horse could have easily died if they introduced normal food right away. Therefore, to start out, Jax was given specific amounts of hay and alfalfa pellets, followed by grains low in carbohydrates and sugar, then finally the regular amount of grains and supplements a horse of his size needs.
Anderson said he was able to make a full recovery within six months. She added that Jax is now a happy and “very affectionate” horse.
Anderson said the goal of RRR is to rescue horses, rehabilitate and retrain them, and send them off to a forever home.
However, in the case of Jax, due to his circumstances, they are unable to retrain him and place him in a new home.
The six horses were owned by Jonathan Wayne Stahl, 32, of Glen Campbell.
Stahl is still awaiting trial at the Armstrong County Court of Common Pleas on six counts each of aggravated cruelty to animals — torture, aggravated cruelty to animals — causing serious bodily injury or death, cruelty to animals and neglect of animals — vet care, and one count each of theft by unlawful taking and theft of services.
Armstrong County District Attorney Katie Charlton said she has no update on Stahl’s case at this time, but said the trial will be rescheduled once trials resume again, which could be in April.
Due to his ongoing case, Anderson said she doesn’t want to train Jax for two reasons.
The first is that if Jax is hurt, RRR could be held liable.
The second, is that, when a horse is trained, its “value” is increased. Anderson said she doesn’t want to take the chance of giving Stahl back his horse, if he wins his case, with a higher value than when it was taken. Anderson said it is hard for her and her volunteers at RRR, as the slow progression of Stahl’s case is causing them to go against the rescue’s primary goal.
“It’s hard sitting here with a horse we can’t do anything with,” Anderson said.
She said RRR will still continue to house and take care of Jax. She said if Stahl were to lose his case, and lose custody of his horse, the organization will be able to retrain him and find a new home.
Anderson said horse rescues like RRR run entirely on volunteer manpower and donations, as they receive no grants or funding from the government.
She said the cost the organization has spent on Jax is near $9,000, and that donations are being accepted for Jax and other horses in their care through their Facebook page, their PayPal account or by sending checks to: Rory Ridge Rescue, 178 Anderson Road, Templeton, PA 16259.
Nick Vercilla is a staff reporter for the Leader Times, a Sample News Group sibling to The Indiana Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com.