SKAGIT COUNTY, Washington - Officials in Skagit County seized more than 20 horses that they said were near death Wednesday afternoon.
KIRO 7’s Lee Stoll got to the scene just as the last few horses were rounded up by animal control officers. All three had heavily matted manes, and one had an open sore on its back leg.
“It’s a sad situation,” said Sgt. Jennifer Sheahan-Lee with the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheahan-Lee said it took two days for an army of officers and volunteers to load up 26 horses. The animals are now being checked out by a veterinarian in Snohomish County.
“(They had) lice, they had mud rot, rain rot,” she said. “There’s likely some other things that, once a vet treats them, just because of their body conditioning score, they’ll discover some other issues going on.”
The horses were owned by a couple in Snohomish County, but they were kept at a farm in Skagit County where they were seized.
Sheahan-Lee said animal control received a tip the horses had been neglected and that some of the horses could die.
On a health scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being imminent death – nine horses were rated a 2.
“I think it’s terrible if they can’t take care of them,” neighbor Angie Fox said.
She said she raised horses on her own property down the street for years and can’t imagine how long the animals have been deteriorating.
“I can’t imagine having that many,” she said. “If you can’t afford to keep them, you shouldn’t have them.”
Sheahan-Lee said the owners were present Tuesday as the horses were seized. The animals now face an uncertain future, as the owners face possible charges.
Police said they doubt the farm owner will face charges since he didn’t own the horses.
Sources told KIRO 7 the owners were heartbroken, and concerned the horses might be euthanized.
Officers said all the animals should recover.