EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Briggs requested that his name not be published given the circumstances.
HOLT — Chronic active hepatitis purportedly plagues an emaciated paint quarter horse named Justice who is receiving care at Safe Haven Horse Rescue Center in Laurel Hill.
Dr. Jim Culotta, a Fort Walton Beach veterinarian, made the diagnosis.
However, Safe Haven director Jim Bryan, who took the horse to a veterinary specialist in Milton, said Justice has liver failure.
He will not know the horse’s health prognosis for at least a couple of weeks, he said, adding that Justice is starting to show signs of improvement.
Mr. Briggs, who raises horses in Holt, said he and his family have been unfairly judged, even threatened via Facebook, since their former horse became ill.
It started June 27, when residents passing by his private residence saw the horse, with protruding bones, he said.
Residents allegedly contacted Okaloosa County commissioners and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Briggs said.
“It’s being put out there that I hurt these horses and I don’t,” he said.
The Florida Agriculture Department and the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society have stated there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
“Everybody has said ‘no neglect, no abuse’,” he said.
In his 40 years of taking care of horses, Briggs said dealing with this type of illness is a first. As a precaution, he is having his other horses tested by a veterinarian to ensure they are healthy.
“I have never had an issue with this type of ailment before,” he said. “I was out here every waking minute with (Justice) trying to figure out what more I could do for him.”