Ten horses and four llamas have been seized by authorities from a Colorado property as part of an ongoing animal welfare investigation.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it had uplifted the animals from the Black Forest property on Monday.
The case has generated a large amount of attention in social media, with an associated Facebook page having gathered more than 22,000 “likes”.
The sheriff’s office confirmed that it executed a search warrant at the property to check on the welfare of the animals.
A veterinarian accompanied officers.
A statement from the sheriff’s office said the animals were seized based upon the ongoing investigation, including the veterinarian’s assessment.
It was determined there was enough evidence to remove the animals and serve the owner a citation for cruelty to animals, a class 1 misdemeanor. It is believed the woman had been renting part of the property.
The horses and llamas were removed with help from the Colorado Humane Society and SPCA, and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Other groups assisted with transportation of the animals.
The horses have been taken to a large-animal facility for care, and the llamas have been taken to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
Addressing publicity around the case, the sheriff’s office said it wanted to remind the citizens that it had a stringent legal process to follow in cases such as this.
“By following our established processes, we ensure not just the best chances for a successful prosecution, but the ongoing safety of the animals involved. Poor police work could lead to a dismissal of the case and the further endangerment of the animals.
“The sheriff’s office … would like to thank the many local, national and even international individuals and groups who called with offers of assistance. It is greatly appreciated.”
The case first came to attention on Friday, with many commenting with surprise at the decision over the weekend not to remove the animals from the property.
The sheriff’s office issued a statement on Saturday evening saying: “While the appearance of the animals was visually disturbing, none of the horses were in immediate danger and none of them had to be euthanized. As such, they had no legal right to seize the horses at that time.”
The El Paso County Commissioner, Darryl Glenn, whose district includes Black Forest, reported at a commission meeting on Tuesday that he had received more than 1500 emails about the horses, including from as far away as Canada and South Africa,
Reports indicates the carcases of other horses were found at the address. It was unclear if the sheriff’s office would order necropsies.