"We were very excited that we were awarded all 19 of the horses," says Lynn Shults with Rescue The Animals.
Mixed reaction today after the ruling that decided the fate of the 19 horses found severely malnourished, weak and sickly in Ranger last week. An Eastland County Justice of the Peace decided they would remain at the Abilene Animal Shelter under care of Rescue the Animals. But not without some protest.
Hatley adds, "I mean, everybody says there's not enough grass to keep a rabbit alive on that place, but that's wrong."
Hatley says he received the horses from a feed lot in El Paso. The animals were reportedly headed to slaughter in Mexico then turned down at the border. He and his wife say they take neglected horses and nurse them back to health.
"When the horses were left on the property, I unloaded the horses, made sure the water was full," says Hatley.
Hatley also has another reason he says he would have never just abandoned the animals.
"Of course, my 4 horses were there on the place, and I'm certainly not going to leave my horses without something to eat," he says.
However, the court decided there was not enough proof that any of the horses did belong to the Hatleys. Or that it would be in the best interest for the animals to return to the couple.
Shults says, "Possibly, they should have come forth sooner in this investigation process. All it would have taken was a phone call."
The original owner of these horses now owes the city of Ranger over $1,400 and owes Rescue the Animals over $3,600 for all expenses over the past week. Criminal charges are pending.