Seized horses up for adoption

Magistrate rejects appeal by former owner to have them returned

WALTERBORO - A herd of horses seized from a Colleton County Bible camp are still up for adoption after another round in court.

Colleton County Magistrate John McLeod rejected more appeals earlier this week from the former owner to get the 47 horses back.

Animal-control officers took the horses May 5 from Gift Horse Bible Camp near Cottageville after reports they were being neglected and abused.

Eddy Ackerman, who runs the camp, argued that some of the horses weren't eating because they were sick but none was abused or neglected.

Ackerman is not giving up. He has filed an appeal with the S.C. Supreme Court.

The custody battle is over as far as Animal Control director Tim Lynes is concerned. Lynes says he does not expect the Supreme Court even to hear Ackerman's appeal, especially since he's representing himself.

Meanwhile, Lynes is taking applications from people who want to adopt a horse.

Adoption would cost about $150, Lynes said. The new owner must also pass a background check and demonstrate he or she has the space and money to take care of the animal.

Lynes is taking care of 14 stallions at the animal shelter on Poor Farm Road. The rest of the horses are at the Livestock Equine Awareness and Rescue Network's J Bar Farms ranch in Meggett.

The county has spent more than $60,000 so far nursing the horses back to health and feeding them, Lynes said.

He said he had to get involved when he saw the condition of the horses. "I don't regret it," he said.

The county has received about $5,000 in donations to care for the horses but could use more help, Lynes said.

Lynes hopes to recoup some of the cost in a criminal trial on 43 charges of animal cruelty. The maximum penalty for each offense is $500 and 60 days in jail.

The jury trial is set for the last week of October, Lynes said. Ackerman did not return a message asking for comment Tuesday.