News 12 First at Five / Friday, Mar. 24, 2014
TRENTON, S.C. (WRDW) -- The seven horses in Terry Figueroa's care are still shy, somewhat scared, but they're getting fatter. Two days ago, the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office seized them from a farm near the corner of Vann Road and New Market Road in Trenton.
"I mean, there were four or five police cars, a crime scene unit, the sheriff, the captain, all in one place on a Saturday morning to execute a warrant," says Figueroa, who runs the Arabian Rescue Mission of New Jersey.
The Sheriff's Office arrested 50-year-old Stephen Zukowski and charged him with Ill-Treatment of Animals. Figueroa drove all the way from New Jersey to help the Sheriff's Office rescue the horses.
"Most of these horses are between 75 and 200 pounds underweight," she tells News 12.
The Sheriff's Office set out to seize 77 horses, but deputies only found seven. Figueroa says the 70 missing horses are likely in worse shape than these.
"The court said he had to tell the sheriff where they are, and the sheriff said he would go check on them," she says. "I am concerned, though."
Figueroa gave News 12 pictures from back in January. She says many of the horses likely have worms, parasites, and damaged hooves. She says some are so skinny, they can barely stand. She says living conditions were also bad.
"I did not see it personally, but from the pictures, it was horrendous. I mean, it was two or three feet of manure and urine. It looked like it hadn't been cleaned in months," she says.
The Edgefield County Sheriff's Office has charged Zukowski with one misdemeanor charge, even though Zukowski technically could be charged with one count for each horse.
"Maybe if it were harsher, the next person would ask for help before it gets to this point," says Figueroa. "There are people out there to turn to to ask for help, even if they had called the sheriff himself and said, 'Hey, do you know anybody who can help?'"
The Sheriff's Office says Zukowski has been cooperative.
Meanwhile, Figueroa is looking for volunteers, since she's just a non-profit and still has a lot of work to do.
If you'd like to help, you can contact Figueroa at 973-896-0781.
An incorrect mugshot was made available to the media and has since been corrected.