Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies use tow truck to help starved horse on her feet

OKLAHOMA COUNTY - After a horse was found starved and in bad shape, she's now on the road to recovery - but it took a unique method to get her there.

Deputies had to enlist the help of a tow truck when she was too weak to stand on her own.

"If she sees you coming in and she sees you grab some hay, she's nickering," said Natalee Cross, who's been rescuing horses like Arabella for nearly two decades. "She needs that forage, and she just wasn't getting enough."

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office said they got their first concerned call about the 11-year-old mare back in December. A deputy who specializes in animals went to check on her and said she was thin but decided they'd continue to check in on her before taking action.

However, last week, they realized the time had come to take the mare and called Cross to help. Despite a vet's best efforts to hydrate her, Cross said Arabella just didn't have enough strength to get herself all the way up.

So, Cross went home to get the sling her rescue typically attaches to a tractor to pull horses up, but the sheriff's office called in 4 Whlz Up Towing to help - an idea she said she's surprised she'd never thought of.

"We have struggled in numerous locations not having equipment to get them up other than manpower," she said.

Crow said Arabella's starvation has led to other health problems, like a heart murmur and anemia.

"If she was slicked off and didn't have all this hair, she would look so much worse than she is," she said.

But, in spite of all that, Crow said she is still very sweet, adding horses are typically very forgiving animals.

"They almost die of starvation and, when they get help, they almost instantly know that you're there to help them," Cross said.

Once Arabella is well enough, she will be up for adoption. You can find contact information for Blaze's Tribute Equine Rescue on their Facebook page.

The deputy handling the investigation said he won't press charges until after the horse's two-week checkup with a vet.

The owner could face one count of animal cruelty for this case and an additional charge related to the death of another horse on the property back in December. That horse likely died of old age but its body was not properly disposed of.