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Horse charity trouble

It's a charity that's supposed to take care of horses that have been abused or neglected, but in this case, it seems horses brought to Domino Effect Rescue Ranch in Hernando County may have been better off left where they were.

"You can't care about horses and see this happening and keep your mouth shut," says horse lover, trainer, and ex-jockey Marianne Tobin.

Tobin has spent 40 years in the horse business.

"I have a deep concern for animal welfare and I've been rescuing horses for 20 years," Tobin says, and she's not alone. Several horse lovers the 10 News Investigators talked with have sent emails to animal control, accusing Domino Effect of mistreating animals.

Photo Gallery: Alleged neglect at Hernando horse rescue
See Also: How to research a non-profit or charity

"It's sad, very, very sad. It is horrible to watch the conditions these horses are being kept under," says horse lover Sandy Wood.

Carrie Young, who also runs a horse rescue in Hernando County, has filed complaints about Domino Effect as well. "It makes me want to cry. They're getting donations from the public to feed the animals," says Young.

Critics allege Domino Effect doesn't give the horses it takes in enough food. One email obtained from the Hernando County Animal Control states the horses "don't seem to even be fed the proper nourishment; it appears their suffering is being prolonged."

Domino Effect owner Bob Ashcraft says that's just not true. "I feed the horses, absolutely.  I have been flat loaded up with a lot of false allegations."

The 10 News Investigators asked him about the pictures of under nourished horses we have seen and he said, "We don't rescue perfect horses."

Ashcraft admits he doesn't spend time rehabilitating the animals like most rescue operations, and instead adopts the horses out for a fee.

"I'm not a retirement facility for animals. I'm a center where they can come when they are in need and I'm going to find them a home," says Ashcraft, adding that God had led him here.  "I didn't know what it took to run a rescue. I just knew what it took to take care of animals."

A home video given to the 10 News Investigators paints an ugly picture of what happened when one horse was brought to Domino Effect.  The video shows two wounds on the horse, including a gaping chest wound. Ashcraft maintains it wasn't his fault, because the horse was skittish.

Ted Koran is Ashcraft's neighbor and he claims Domino Effect didn't take care of a horse named Shia. Choking back tears, Koran holds up a picture of Shia the day before she died.

Despite several allegations of abuse, Domino Effect has not been cited by Hernando Animal Control. However, the agency is under fire itself for euthanizing animals too quickly, including a dog that was killed within an hour after it was taken in

The state did step in after we started asking questions, because Ashcraft lied about being convicted felon on his application for heading up a nonprofit. Ashcraft was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon when he shot a pig on his property. 

Following that incident, the state finally revoked his charitable status, but Ashcraft maintains his critics have it all wrong and he is a charitable man doing God's work. He has a strange reason on why his rescue is under fire:

"Here's one for you, well here it goes... What happened to Jesus? Did people kiss him? Did they love him?" asked Ashcraft.

Clearly those who love horses in Hernando County don't love Ashcraft, especially Sandy Wood. "He professes to be a Christian. Christians don't behave in that manner, not at all. He is the devil incarnate and he will go to hell for his behavior."

Animal control has also received the following complaints on Ashcraft:

  • that he sold horses that were several years older than he said they were
  • that he solicited for charitable contributions when he was not approved by the state
  • that he often tried to take back the horses he sold without refunding the adoption fee, stating the new owners weren't abiding by his standards 

Currently Ashcraft can no longer solicit as a charitable organization, and he has no idea how much money he's raised.


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