Press Releases


State ag department, Mercer County Fiscal Court dispute Borells' claims on abandoned horses


Lawsuit seeks to settle ownership claims, asks reimbursement for horses' care


For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
For more information contact:
Angela Blank
(502) 573-0450


HARRODSBURG, Ky. – State and local officials filed suit in Mercer Circuit Court on Tuesday disputing Charles and Maria Borell’s claims of ownership on 43 horses found abandoned on a Mercer County farm in June.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and Mercer County Fiscal Court are asking the circuit court to rule that Fiscal Court owns the horses and may sell, donate, or otherwise transfer ownership of the horses. The suit also asks the court to order the Borells to pay costs incurred by Fiscal Court and numerous businesses and individuals who have contributed to the upkeep of the horses since they were declared to be abandoned, as well as interest, attorneys’ fees, and other costs of the litigation.


Download the lawsuit.

According to the suit, on June 9, Deputy State Veterinarian Bradley Keough visited the farm where the horses were located and found them to be without adequate food and water and with no caretakers present. Dr. Keough evaluated the horses’ conditions, found little or no fresh hay on the premises, and declared that the owner(s) had abandoned them based on his observations, the suit says. At that point, the suit claims, Charles Borell and his daughter, Maria, lost their rights to the horses, and Mercer County Fiscal Court became the “taker-up” of the horses.

Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty was notified and promptly provided bales of hay and fresh water to the horses, the suit says.

The KDA has calculated that more than $20,000 has been spent on temporary care for the horses. The suit claims that Thoroughbred Charities of America has spent more than $13,000, and Sallee Horse Transport, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Park Equine Hospital, and Patterson Veterinary Supply also have contributed to their care.

The Office of the State Veterinarian posted photos and information pertaining to the horses on its Stray and Abandoned Horses Database at Four other parties came forward to claim ownership in five of the horses, the suit says. Other parties may intervene in the suit to claim an interest in the horses.

The KDA and Mercer County Fiscal Court also filed a motion for a speedy hearing so that the costs of the temporary care of the horses may be brought to an end as soon as possible. A hearing on the suit is scheduled for Oct. 12 at 9 a.m.