Animal Control: Frankenmuth Carriage Company horses in 'good health'

Lisa Stoffel
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FRANKENMUTH (WJRT) - (12/30/17) - Saginaw County animal control officers are making strides in an investigation of alleged horse abuse at a Frankenmuth horse-drawn carriage company, but say the investigation is not complete.

The owner of Frankenmuth Carriage Company told ABC12 Saturday that the animal control report would confirm that she is not facing any violations.

We asked Lisa Stoffel, animal control director, if the owner had been cleared. Stoffel said, "Not cleared. We are still waiting for the medical reports. However, it was discovered that the photos were from two years ago. Our officers found the animals to be in good health."

Stoffel is referring photos that surfaced in a social media post made by Patience Atwood Thursday. The former employee of the company posted pictures, video and detailed allegations of neglect and abuse. Atwood says the photos taken were from over the summer (2017). She says she worked there on and off for about a year from September 2016-August 2017.

ABC12 talked to four former employees of Frankenmuth Carriage Company Friday, including the author of the Facebook post that prompted the investigation. They also showed pictures alleging neglect and mistreatment of four horses.

Stoffel says two officers examined the horses Friday.

Saturday the owner of Frankenmuth Carriage Company told ABC12 that she is also consulting with her horses' veterinarian to provide additional evidence that the animals are in good shape.

(12/29/17) - Horse-drawn carriages are part of the Frankenmuth tourism experience.

But one of the well-known carriage companies is being investigated by
Saginaw County Animal Care & Control for alleged abuse of its horses.

At least four former employees at Frankenmuth Carriage Co. have made accusations, including one in a detailed Facebook post Thursday.

Gabrielle Ohearn is one of the former employees who worked there from August 2016 to October 2017. She claims the owner did nothing when employees voiced their concerns of abuse and neglect.

"Most of them are videos and pictures we had sent to the owner to tell her that they were lame or this was going on," Ohearn said while showing videos and pictures of the horses. "And, some were acknowledged and some were just blown off."

She alleges the horses have poor living conditions, cracked horseshoes and chronic pain.

Ohearn took a photo of a horse's hoof that appears to be missing about half of its shoe. Other photos show sores and cracks on the horses' hooves.

"Usually just whenever somebody threw a shoe she'd have to wait around and call a farrier, where most people, they're on a set schedule, usually 6-8 weeks depending on how fast the horse's hoof grows," she said. "But it depends on the individual horse."

Frankenmuth Carriage's owner did not respond to calls seeking comment on Friday.

Saginaw County Animal Care & Control did not comment on the condition of the horses, saying investigators have to thoroughly examine them first.

They confirmed they have opened an investigation largely in part to the Facebook post detailing the alleged abuse of the four horses.

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