Former Champion Racehorse Found Starving In Muddy Field

This happens to them way too often.

When a Good Samaritan alerted animal control to an emaciated horse in a field, rescuers rushed to save him.

People from St. Landry Parish Animal Control and Rescue (SLPAC), in Opelousas, Louisiana, seized the animal from the property and called a vet who hurried to his side.

Sadly, it was too late. He was so weak and his body was breaking down. His spine was infested with maggots. It appeared that he had been recently saddled, even despite his open sores.

"His flesh frail and tearing, we tried to lift but his flesh gave way,” SLPAC wrote on Facebook. "We tried to lift with support from tail, it ripped away. [An] abscess in his mouth made it hard for him to chew his hay ... he started coughing blood.”

Rescuers agreed that the only thing to do for this stallion was to end his suffering.

“I believe at the end, the horse knew people were trying,” Stacey McKnight, director of SLPAC, told local news.

But where had this poor animal come from?

People found an identifying tattoo in his mouth, a sign of his past. This was Dr. Drip, a champion racehorse. Not long ago, he was winning the Magnolia Stakes, a race in Louisiana.

“Shame to those who allowed this,” SLPAC wrote.

Sadly, Dr. Drip’s fate isn’t so unusual.

“Almost on a daily basis, we see something about a horse being neglected,” Marty Irby, senior director of rural outreach and equine protection at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told The Dodo. It’s hard to even put a number on how many former show and racehorses end up in destitution. “I’ve seen more in the southeast than anywhere. There’s a lot of show horses and racehorses there,” Irby said.

Some show and racehorses are bred in large operations, almost similar to puppy mills, Irby said. “It’s a shame because so many of these horses are a means to an end,” he said. “They don’t care about the horse — they treat it like an object, not like a living creature.”

For instance, last summer in Lexington, Kentucky, a breeder tried to abandon 43 horses after she was done with them. And many unwanted horses in the U.S. end up getting shipped elsewhere for slaughter.

But gradually, the industry is realizing that it needs to take more responsibility for horses who were once in the spotlight and who end up in terrible situations. And there are more programs that help former racehorses find second careers after their life on the track is over. The Homes for Horses Coalition, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Unwanted Horse Coalition all help find homes for horses after the end of their careers.

But more needs to be done to prevent neglect and abuse. Luckily, people can have a huge voice in this area. “Without the consumers, there would be no industry,” Irby said. “Spectators and participants can definitely make a difference by demanding high standards ... people can really have an impact.”

Update: An arrest has been made for the abuse and neglect of Dr. Drip.

To help find justice for Dr. Drip’s death, you can sign this petition. You can also tell your representatives to get behind legislation against horse abuse and slaughter.