While her day job includes responding to the county's canine emergencies, dogs aren't the only species that Union County dog warden Mary Beth Hall takes under her wing.

While her day job includes responding to the county's canine emergencies, dogs aren't the only species that Union County dog warden Mary Beth Hall takes under her wing.

Hall has been trained in large animal rescue. Those skills came in handy last November, when she was contacted about a potential animal cruelty case in Tennessee.

"I got an e-mail about a case of animal cruelty. They were talking about a number of horses that were starving to death on a farm," Hall said. She decided to learn more about it and find out what she could do.

When she arrived in Bradyville, a town southwest of Nashville, the sight was a difficult one to take in, she said.

"The story was, a few kids noticed three dead horses by a creek, and the sheriff's office was called in to investigate," Hall said. "The sheriff called several national and local rescue groups, and they went out in a caravan to investigate."

One of those groups was Volunteer Equine Advocates, a Tennessee-based equine humane organization. According to the VEA's Web site, 84 horses were found on a 100-acre farm, many of them "extremely emaciated and suffering from a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves and parasite infestation." Several of the Tennessee Walking horses, Spotted Saddle horses and quarterhorses were already dead, according to the VEA.

Rescuers had to transport the mistreated horses to the state fairgrounds, Hall said. It was the only place they could find that was big enough to house that many animals immediately.

Once the horses were squared away, Hall was introduced to one young gelding who had put up with the trauma extremely well, she said. After some thought, the young Spotted Tennessee Walker was placed in a trailer, and came home to Ohio with Hall.

"That's Domino," she said. "He had a pretty bad coat condition when they found him, so he's been rubbing on the walls in the barn, but he's doing better and has even put on a little weight."

Rescuers estimated that Domino could be between nine months and two years old. He still has some baby teeth, Hall said. It will be some time before the 14-hands-tall gelding can accept a rider, but for now he is becoming acclimated to the other animals on Hall's farm.

"He's just starting to get along with the other horses (Copper and Patrick)," Hall said. "The Arabian has started to whinny to him, and Domino even took it well when we trimmed his hooves. I've had a chance to introduce him to gunfire, and that wasn't even a problem."

Although rescuing Domino was Hall's own decision and not done in her capacity as Union County dog warden, she said that she has seen many cases of animal cruelty in the county.

"We do get a lot of calls and reports, sometimes just people wanting us to check in, sometimes cases of horses or dogs starving. Sadly I've seen some of those over the years," she said.

Hall said that for those in the county who care about the wellbeing of animals, one of the best things they can do is donate their time and money to local rescue groups, such as the Union County Humane Society.

"It's the local groups that really do a lot of good in the community," she said. "They are always in need of volunteers."