Hernando County Animal Services responded to Domino Effect ranch in Weeki Wachee on Monday, after complaints of visibly malnourished horses came from the Humane Society of the United States and dozens of concerned citizens.
An inspection of the horses in the care of ranch owners Robert and Denel Ashcraft was performed by Deputy Adkins, which did note amalnourished horse, according to a county official familiar with the preliminary report.
However, Domino Effect ranch still passed the inspection with no actionable violations under current Florida law.
A score based on the Henneke body condition index is used by Hernando County Animal Services (HCAS) officers to assess the health of horses during an inspection. A score of 1 indicates a horse so malnourished it is near death. The highest score is 9, which is given to an obese horse.
Preliminary inspection findings revealed that a Domino Effect ranch horse was given a Henneke body condition score of 2 on Monday, indicating severe emaciation. But that is not considered an animal abuse violation in Hernando County.
Unlike California, Ohio, Texas, and other states, Florida does not have a legal minimum standard for the mandatory seizure of emaciated horses based on a Henneke body score, even if the horse is so malnourished it actually dies from starvation or related complications.