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Camp Lookout denies animal abuse allegations

Camp Lookout denied allegations of intentionally starving its animals after giving three lean horses to Red clay Ranch Equine Rescue and Sanctuary on Oct. 27.


Co-Owner of Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue and Sanctuary Lee Rast took in the horses after someone called her claiming that the camp was allegedly starving the horses. Rast said she was told that the horses were too old to maintain weight, which is why they looked starved.


“They were pathetic,” Rast said. “They told me that the horses were just old. That’s not the case. One is 17 and in his prime, one was 21 and in his prime and the other one was 28. A 28-year-old still has a lot of life in him for camp activities. A 17-year-old – that’s not old. They said they were feeding them but they were not feeding them. They told me what they were feeding them and I said, ‘That is not nearly enough for an animal that weight.’ I realize that summer camps are having a hard time this year because of COVID-19. But, you don’t get to starve your animals because of that. That’s not a blanket permission to starve your animals.”


Camp Lookout Director Don Washburn told the Sentinel that veterinarians examined the horses several times before coming to the conclusion that the animals were indeed too old to keep a healthy weight. Washburn also said the amount of food given to the horses was based on recommendations from the veterinarians.


“We were following vet orders on how much to feed them,” Washburn said. “We know that when they get old, they are difficult to keep weight on.”


There is even a disagreement between Rast and Washburn as to how these horses ended up at Red Clay Ranch. Rast claims that the Georgia Department of Agriculture forced Camp Lookout to surrender the horses to Rast after multiple complaints of animal abuse.


“That’s not true,” Washburn said.


 Washburn told the Sentinel that after the horses were graded by veterinarians, a recommendation was made to give the horses to Rast.


“They have the best resources to take care of them,” Washburn said.


Rast said that she was told a rumor that Camp Lookout had been under investigation by the Georgia Department of Agriculture for over three years, which Washburn denied.


“Absolutely not,” Washburn said. “If we have been, I sure haven’t known about it. That is not true. 


The Sentinel reached out to Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Manager Matt Thompson and Paula Sewell for comment. Both were unavailable.


Rast said that the three horses, Dixie, Twister and Cleve, are expected to make a full recovery.


The horses can be seen on Red Clay Ranch Equine Rescue and Sanctuary’s Facebook page, along with a statement from Rast.


“I can tell you that I am angry and disgusted,” Rast’s post said. “Ignorance is one thing – willful ignorance is altogether different. So as you pray for the recovery of Dixie, Twister and Cleve, please pray also that I can embrace a forgiving heart. I am falling short of that right now.”


“We don’t abuse animals up here,” Washburn said. “I don’t want someone to slander us when it’s not true.”


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