By Charlotte Huffman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Disturbing questions are being raised about what is happening inside a New Jersey barn. This comes after concerned residents called Eyewitness News saying a woman is abusing her horses. They say despite recent deaths of several of them and an on-going investigation by humane officials, little has been done to save the others. Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman reports.
Monica Thors has been raising and training horses for harness racing for years. She produced a documentary on the sport and is also a horse photographer. Some may call Thors a horse expert.
Others call her a monster because of what happens inside a Swedesboro barn.
“There’s something seriously wrong here,” one woman told Eyewitness News.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she recently went to Thors’ barn to do business.
“It was just devastating … when you see it your heart breaks,” she said.
Kathy McGuire also visited Thors’ barn. McGuire is a certified animal cruelty investigator and owns NJ Aid For Animals, Inc., a non-profit striving to end the suffering of animals.
McGuire characterizes what she saw as “abuse.”
“The horses can’t lay down … can’t move and their feet are all bandaged up,” she said.
Following such allegations of abuse, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture investigated and sent inspectors to the barn in June of 2013. A department spokesperson says inspectors found the conditions inside the barn met the department’s definition of a “severe violation.”
Thors showed the Eyewitness News I-Team around her barn and the horses she claims are healthy.
She also showed the I-Team a horse with bandages around his hooves. The horse required the support of a sling to stand up for long and struggled to even walk.
“Why can’t the horse stand on his own?” Investigative Reporter, Charlotte Huffman asked Thors.
“He started to get foot infections from the glue and I should’ve known better,” Thors explained.
Thors says she was gluing on the horse’s shoes.
“The glue was seeping into the foot,” she said.
“When you’re gluing on shoes you don’t glue over the top of blood because you could cause an infection,” one of Thors’ former blacksmiths said.
The blacksmith, who asked to remain anonymous, told Eyewitness News he has seen Thors routinely overuse tools like a dremel on the horse’s hooves.
“She’s using it to cut away at the sole, filing the feet shorter and shorter …She would just keep trimming until blood started pouring out,” he said.
Thors responded to such allegations by saying she trims all of her horses’ hooves short because it puts less stress on their joints.
The Department of Agriculture says investigators handed their report over to NJSPCA (New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which has the enforcement authority.
A NJSPCA spokesperson says the agency was made aware of situation in August of 2013.
Since then, Thors admits three horses have died, including two from foot infections.
NJSPCA would not talk on camera about why it has taken a year and a half to act on the Department of Agriculture’s findings but in a statement said the case is “difficult and complex” and they are working to conclude it “as quick as possible.”
But for people like McGuire, it’s not quick enough.
“They’ve had the report for a year … At this point someone needs to go do their job … How many more horses have to die?
Animal cruelty cases in the U.S.
Pet-Abuse.com maintains a database of criminal animal cruelty cases. Currently, there are 19,448 cases listed.
Suspect animal abuse?
If you know of or suspect animal abuse, experts recommend you take the following steps to report it:
- Document what you see, take photos, record dates, times, etc.
- Alert humane authorities immediately.
- Know your local ordinances. Most cities list their ordinances on their websites. If not, ask city authorities.
For more information on reporting abuse visit:
Reporting abuse on factory farms
HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) has a “whistleblower” hotline to anonymously report cruelty on factory farms. Call 1-888-209-7177.
HSUS offers whistleblowers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals.
For more information on reporting abuse of farm animals, click here.
If you have a story you want the Eyewitness News I-Team to investigate send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.