Twenty horses have been seized in Colorado and their owner cited for animal cruelty.
Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies and posse members undertook the operation along with agents from the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Protection.
They seized the horses on Thursday from a property in the 500-block of Raspberry Lane in Livermore, Colorado, just south of the Wyoming border.
Carl Preyss, 57, was charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty, a class one misdemeanor.
Several horses appeared to be underfed and there was no water available to the entire herd, the sheriff’s office said.
The horses first came to the attention of the sheriff’s office last year after complaints of stray horses that appeared to be underfed.
At that time the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office made arrangements for hay and water for the animals and continued to monitor them.
In May last year, a deputy and a posse member, who has received livestock investigation training through the Bureau of Animal Protection, examined the animals and determined several of them to be underfed.
Preyss, the owner of the horses, was told of the concerns about the lack of food and water.
Subsequent checks showed improvement in their condition and a private veterinarian provided a letter indicating the horses were not being neglected or abused.
In late December, deputies were in the area and once again observed no visible food or water available for the horses.
After another visit in February by agents with the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Protection and the Sheriff’s office, it was decided a search warrant would be obtained to perform a formal evaluation of the animals.
Officials from the state veterinarian’s office conducted the evaluation on Thursday. Sheriff’s deputies seized the horses based on lack of water.
A private veterinarian will also evaluate the horses, treat them and oversee their recovery.
The sheriff’s office was also assisted by the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office, the Larimer County Humane Society and a Colorado Department of Agriculture brand inspector.
The horses were taken to the Harmony Equine Center, a private nonprofit facility that rehabilitates neglected and mistreated horses that have been removed from their owners by law enforcement authorities.