DARRINGTON — The case began with a report of a dead horse lying under some power lines outside Darrington on a cold December day.
The animal control officer noted the remains were that of a sorrel quarter horse gelding. The animal reportedly was so emaciated that his ribs, spine and hipbones were visible. There were no signs of trauma or predation.
“Tire tracks leading to the location made it appear as if the horse had been dropped off at the location already deceased,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Michelle Rutherford wrote in court papers filed earlier this week.
The person who had reported the dead horse said he appeared to match one owned by a man who lives not far away, just north of town. Animal control had been there before over the years. The officer visited the home, and left a note asking the resident for a call.
There was no reply when the officer returned to the power line road the next day accompanied by a veterinarian who would examine the dead horse to determine why he had died.
That’s when a second dead horse was found. She, too, was a a sorrel quarter horse, this time a mare. She also appeared emaciated. She had been there long enough to be frozen and covered in ice.
The officer compared the dead horses with photographs that animal control had on file from a 2015 incident involving the purported owner, Andrew Floe. The dead horses appeared to match. Necropsies were conducted. Both horses appeared to have little body fat.
Because of apparent lack of injury or illness and poor body condition, it was determined that the horses likely died from starvation,” Rutherford wrote in Snohomish County Superior Court documents.
Floe, 56, lives about a half mile from where the horses were found. He denied the dead animals belonged to him. He also said the other six horses at his home were fine, and not underfed as animal control officers suggested.
There was no hay or forage in the field where they were kept and the water was frozen, according to court papers.
Officers obtained a search warrant to examine the other horses. They reportedly were in poor condition caused by lack of food and adequate shelter.
Floe has seven felony convictions for assault, harassment, theft and drug violations. He’s now charged with two counts of first-degree cruelty to animals.
The charging papers allege that he mistreated the horses between October and December 2017, causing “substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extended for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering and death.”
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.