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** WARNING: Photos and video are graphic **

RAVENNA, Ohio (WJW) – Horses surrendered to a local animal rescue are now in the battle for their lives.

The Portage Animal Protective League took custody of half a dozen horses surrendered last week. One horse was 300 to 400 pounds underweight, while another remains in critical condition and is having difficulty standing.

Some of the six horses were so malnourished that rescuers could easily see the horses’ bones.

Tuesday, they shared a grim update caregivers worked so hard to avoid.

“One of the horses–the grey horse in the worst condition–actually passed away this morning, so we’re really upset and sad that he didn’t make it,” said Chalan Lowry, the Portage Animal Protective League Executive Director. “We really had hopes that he would thrive and we would have a good after story to share, but he was too malnourished and his body couldn’t take it anymore.”

Lowry said they cannot share specific details about their investigation, but all the horses are in varying stages of neglect.

The horses are being cared for by FOCUS Rescue and Rehabilitation.

“It’s never easy to see horses in the condition that humans are willing to allow them to get into,” said Rebecca Scalise, president and founder of the organization.

According to Lowry, Scalise and the protective league’s humane agent spent each night in the barn caring for the animals, feeding them sometimes every two hours. She said they are devastated one horse did not survive.

It could take some time to file charges, if any are warranted in this investigation, said Lowry. Goddard’s Law may not apply in this case.

“Goddard’s Law is a really specific law that applies to people who have an intent to actually harm animals,” said Lowry. “My understanding of the situation without too many details is there was some sort of job loss [for the owner] and struggle due to COVID.”

Lowry urges anyone in a similar situation to ask for help before it’s too late.

“Whatever your circumstance is, if you can’t care for your animal, if you’re worried for them, please reach out… We don’t want animals to suffer. We don’t want people to suffer,” Lowry said.

Lowry thanked everyone who donated hay and said they are still in need of hay nets, fly spray and monetary donations to help care for the horses.

You can donate funds here.