Neglected Horses, Investigation Underway

By: Beth Shayne Email
By: Beth Shayne Email

Sixty-nine horses are found in Jackson County starving and allegedly stranded.

Jackson County sheriff deputies are searching for James Henderson Jr. and Matthew Mercier, the owners of Turn 3 Ranch in Grass Lake Township.

Both are wanted for animal cruelty.

To touch her is nothing but bone," says Jackson County Animal Control director Kim Luce of a 4-year-old mare. "You can see the rib indentation, her hips," she says. That mare is one of 69 horses they found on this farm they've now impounded. They were left without food or water, the vet thinks probably since fall.

"What got us on the property was a running at large complaint and when we got here there a dead horse in the driveway," Luce says.

30 were stuffed into the barn, where horse manure and urine acumulated, and the rest were running wild in fields with string, wire, and woods with nails on the ground.

The problems seen endless, and they're about to multiply.

"We have approximately 30 pregnant mares," Luce says.

The goals for now are short term--get rid of the junk and make thie ranch liveable, and get these animals back to health. Beyond that, they're not sure what they'll do with as many as 100 neglected horses.

Volunteers from the Leelanau Horse Rescue were called, let by Jackson County horse farm owner Laura Steenrod. "The biggest and most urgent need is hay--we need to get these horses fed," she says.

Volunteers have been at work now for about 48 hours, clearing fields, feeding the horses, and marveling at how anyone could do this.

"They just turned a blind eye and walked away," Steenrod says.

They are accepting donations to Leelanau Horse Rescue at P.O. 859, Leeland, Michigan 49654. They ask anyone with goods or services to call 517-937-0526

The two men face 93 days in jail on a charge of animal cruelty. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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