(WSVN) - Our 7 Investigates team found an area in South Dade that has become overrun with unwanted and abandoned dogs. Kevin Ozebek is back on the case because landowners now say dogs aren’t the only problem.

Karen Buckhaot: “He was grazing in the grass on the corner.”

Karen Buckhaot couldn’t believe it.

This horse was walking alone in her Redlands neighborhood.

Karen Buckhaot: “He was just meandering down the side of the road, eating grass, desperately eating grass because he was very thin.”

He was so thin, you could see his rib cage.

Kevin Ozebek: “How big of an issue is this becoming, these abandoned animals here in your community?”

Karen Buckhaot: “Mostly it is people dumping their pets, their animals. I feel like I am living in a third world country.”

The horse Karen spotted a few months ago is now in the care of Laurie Waggoner with the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She has affectionately named him Rip.

Kevin Ozebek: “He’s giving you kisses.”

Laurie Waggoner: “Yeah.”

Rip is gaining weight and losing his shyness.

That’s the good news. The bad news is his case is far from unique.

Laurie Waggoner: “Very often people just put them out in the field thinking they’re going to eat grass and be OK, and it just isn’t going to happen here. The horses end up starving, you know, a slow and painful death.”

And it’s not just horses being dumped in South Miami-Dade.

The SPCA says in recent years, the number of livestock found left to fend for themselves has surged.

Since 2020, they’ve brought in more than 400 farm animals.

Laurie Waggoner: “We used to pick up a loose cow here or there, and then it seemed like we were getting cows every other week.”

This huge cow named “Earnest” was found abandoned and emaciated.

Laurie Waggoner: “Just skin and bones.”

These three dairy cows were rescued after they wandered to a gas station.

And meet Pixie.

This little goat was found running around Tropical Park by a police officer.

Laurie Waggoner: “She’s thin, she’s coughing a little bit. Her feet are long and overgrown.”

Chris Septer is the SPCA’s executive director.

Chris Septer: “We had a cow tied up to a tree that was so raw here. She was raw from trying to get loose. We find horses abandoned in the Everglades all the time.”

Why are these animals being abandoned?

Chris says the cost of hay and feed are rising and these animals require a lot of care.

Unlike shelters for dogs and cats, there is nowhere to take a farm animal when an owner falls on tough times.

Chris Septer: “There’s no safety net right now for farm animals and for horses where you can just say, ‘Look, I can’t do this anymore.'”

Chris Septer: “When you’re going to get any animal, understand there’s a commitment level that exceeds most commitments.”

As for our new buddy Rip, he has now put on enough pounds where he looks as healthy as could be.

He is also developing the sweetest personality.

So the team here is very confident Rip will be adopted into a new home.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.


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