Judge gives OK to seize horse
The horse, a bay thoroughbred gelding, is being kept in protective custody for care and feeding, said Vicki Lubrin, the county's licensing and animal control services manager.
County animal control officers are recommending criminal charges against the horse's owner, a 72-year-old farmer.
The man is accused of not giving his horses enough food, or giving them poor-quality food. His horses allegedly weren't being treated for health problems, such as hair loss, eye infections and skin sores.
Animal control officers are working with prosecutors on the case, Lubrin said Tuesday. Roughly a dozen horses remain on the property.
The county has been trying to get the man to take better care of his horses for years, court records show. A few weeks ago, the man was served with civil orders that forced him to allow a veterinarian to conduct medical assessments of each horse.
The gelding was the only horse that hasn't shown any improvement, Lubrin said. The other animals have shown slight improvement but are "not out of the woods," she said.
The case has inspired strong feelings and misinformation. A number of people have taken to social media in recent weeks insisting that the herd's plight was being ignored. Many of them have been contacting local politicians as well.
"We understand everyone's concern for the horses, however, we must proceed carefully so as not to jeopardize the integrity of the case and compromise the outcome for the animals involved. Most importantly, we must act within the scope of the law," Lubrin said in a letter the county has been sending to people who have contacted animal control officers about the case.
County investigators earlier this year determined that the man was violating county codes regarding animal cruelty and neglect. The criminal investigation still is underway.
Under state law, animal cruelty in most circumstances is a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony-level offense if a person is convicted of having sex with animals or intentionally kills or seriously injures an animal.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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