FLORIDA -- As a Broward Animal Control officer led the gray horse through the farm's gate, it appeared as if the animal would faint and tumble.
With every step toward a horse trailer, it looked as if its meatless bones were going to pierce its skin as its eyes blankly stared forward.
Sixteen more horses followed, some with weeks worth of feces caked around their hooves. In between, 20 dogs, 20 cats and 22 birds also were led away on Thursday from the Hoof and Halter Foundation, a non-profit institute that took in unwanted animals.
For some years, the foundation worked with the Broward Sheriff's Office Abuse and Neglect Investigations unit, taking in animals seized in abuse and neglect cases.
But on Thursday, Davie police and Broward County Animal Control were seizing the animals from the foundation in what Davie police said was one of the worst animal-cruelty cases in the town's history.
"This just kills me," said Laura Musgrave, a teary-eyed neighbor watching the grim parade.
Davie police spokesman Lt. Gary Killam said officers showed up at the ranch about 9 a.m., after receiving a picture of an emaciated horse on the property at 14151 SW 26th St. At the five-acre farm, officers found a dead horse covered by a tarp and a dead pig in a pen.
And investigators also saw more than 70 animals in filthy conditions. They found starving horses standing deep in their feces, birds without feathers and a dog with an eye protruding out of its head, Killam said. The badly lit interior of the home was littered with garbage and animal excrement. There were feces on a mattress in one of the rooms.
The dogs, cats and birds were taken to a Humane Society shelter and the horses to stables owned by the American Society for the Protection against Cruelty to Animals.
"This is one of the worst cases [of animal neglect] I've seen," Killam said.
Yvonne Moran (aka Yvonne Moran Golden), who runs the ranch with her husband, James Wayne Schupolsky, said the dead horse on her property had been put to sleep by a veterinarian earlier in the day because it was too old. She said she has dedicated more than 15 years to caring for animals.
"If it needs me, I take it," Moran said. "I have a lot of problems with my neighbors. They do not understand what I'm doing."
Moran said many people resent her because she has taken in animals they abused or neglected.
"I have a lot of enemies because I used to go with the Sheriff's Department when they picked up animals," she said.
Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright confirmed her agency worked with Moran and her husband in the late '80s, but said it has been years since they last cooperated.
Sherry Schlueter, head of the agency's Office Abuse and Neglect Investigations, was out of the country, but has complimented the couple in the past.
"I know that they are very caring individuals," Schlueter told the Sun-Sentinel in 1989. "They take a deep personal interest in each animal that comes in. ... I know Yvonne goes out and massages the horses' legs. She takes a very personal interest, an intense interest, in each animal. You couldn't pay enough money for that type of care. It has to come from the heart."
Killam said no charges have been filed against Schupolsky or Moran. He said the investigation will reveal whether the couple neglected the animals or simply kept taking in more animals than they could afford.
"If you don't have the money to take care of them, you need to seek help," he said. "You have to realize your limits."
(Sun Sentinel - July 23, 1999)