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Eastern Kentucky couple charged with horse abuse

A Harlan County couple faces animal-abuse charges in a case that might involve as many as nine horses, including four that might be dead.

Edwin and Diane Sullivan remained in jail Wednesday and did not have an attorney, Harlan County Deputy Circuit Court Clerk Barbara Perkins told The Associated Press.

Perkins said the Sullivans did not enter a plea during an initial appearance in Harlan District Court on Tuesday, and the case was continued until Monday.

The charges resulted from an anonymous tip received Dec. 25 by Marcella Chadwick, president of the Harlan County Humane Society.

The horses were found at a former strip mine in Wallins Creek in Harlan County that had been leased to the Sullivans, she said.

Five horses were in "bad shape" and one was dead, Chadwick said. The dead horse was covered in pine tree limbs, apparently to make it harder to find.

There are "rumors," she said, that three more horses died and are buried at the site. "We haven't found anything yet," Chadwick said, but the investigation is continuing.

The humane society urges horse owners who are having trouble feeding their animals to contact the society for help, "but they never do," she said.

"The last two years, there has been a lot of horse (abuse) cases in Harlan," because the prices of horses have dropped and the cost of feed has increased, Chadwick said.

People buy horses and then realize they can't afford to feed them, or maybe they lose their jobs in the recession.

Instead of seeking help, "they fence them up and let them starve," she said.

The Harlan County Humane Society now has "a desperate, desperate need" for horse feed and about $4,000 to pay veterinarians' bills.

Donations can be made at Home Federal Bank in Harlan or by calling Chadwick at (606) 909-4781.