Eighty-three horses have been removed from an Oregon property by authorities, with eight of them subsequently euthanized as a result of hoof problems.
Deputies with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office went to the property last Saturday over possible horse neglect, after an individual expressed concern over a horse with an eye injury and hoof neglect.
Deputies contacted the horse owner that afternoon and determined there were a large number of horses on the property suffering from mild to severe neglect.
Based on the observations at the scene, deputies began working on a large-scale horse removal operation, including organizing volunteers to help move the horses to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Rescue Ranch in Bend.
On Sunday, deputies returned to the property and began removing the 83 horses.
They partnered with the Pet Evacuation Team and Mustangs to the Rescue to move to the horses to the rescue ranch.
Two other horses on the property were euthanized by the owner prior to removal due to their overall condition.
A veterinary team and two farriers at the rescue ranch have been working to evaluate the horses and provide the necessary veterinary and hoof care.
The sheriff’s department expressed its thanks to the charities involved for organizing 33 volunteers and 15 horse trailers at short notice on Saturday night.
“Our first priority was to get the horses off the property and to our rescue ranch so we can assess them and get the care that they need,” Sheriff Shane Nelson said.
“Our office will investigate this case fully to determine the facts and plan the next steps for the horses as we go forward.
“We have had large seizures like this in the past and are always impressed with the overwhelming support that we get in donations to help care for these animals,” Nelson said.
“We are fortunate to have our rescue ranch.”
The department said in a statement that the eight horses euthanized had long-term hoof neglect that led to severe abnormalities and excessive hoof wall growth, causing severe pain, arthritis and laminitis.
It said the only responsible and humane thing to do, based on the recommendation of the veterinary team, was to euthanize these horses.
The remaining 75 horses continue to receive essential care.
The owner of the removed horses, a 67-year-old woman from Terrebonne, and her horse caretaker, a 41-year-old woman, also of Terrebonne, have both been charged with one count each of Animal Neglect 1. Each count alleges the neglect occurred to ten or more animals.
The two will appear in Deschutes County Circuit Court next month.
Meanwhile, Sergeant William Bailey said many people on social media had been asking how they can help.
People who would like to make a monetary donation to support the horses can go to a special page on the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office website.
Donated money will go towards veterinary care, farrier work, and other costs associated with the care of the horses.
Those looking to donate hay or other feed should contact the main office at 541-388-6655 to leave their name, contact information and information on their donation.
“Our rescue ranch team will then contact you for more information and to schedule a delivery date and time,” Bailey said.
“Those community members that have already offered other services or just their time brushing horses, we have your information and will contact you if the need arises.”