VALE, Oregon -- Some rural neighbors are concerned about horses living on a farm near Vale, Oregon, saying the animals are underfed and losing weight. One neighbor sent KTVB photos of the horses, so we made calls and visited the farm to find out more.
Sheriff Brian Wolfe confirmed the case and said one of the animals had to be put down. The undersheriff also told KTVB the owner had past issues caring for her horses, and they have charged her with misdemeanor animal neglect.
While the cases go through the courts, undersheriff Travis Johnson says he and others are also trying to help the animals and the owner get back on track. Both Johnson and Wolfe said they are monitoring the remaining horses regularly.
After a visit on Monday, Johnson told us his findings: "Of the seven horses, I felt four of them were in fine condition. There are three that are skinner than I'd like to see a horse in, especially this time of year; however, they are not in a life or death situation."
When KTVB went to see the horses, they were all out in pens eating. Several were covered with blankets. Johnson says he has been personally working with the owner to make sure the animals are now safe.
"For instance, she came into my office [Monday morning], and I requested this of her when we cited her, and that was to do a budget so that she knew how many horses she could realistically keep on her property and take care of." Johnson said.
Johnson says the owner is also planning to find new homes for some of the horses. He also explained that if any horses on the property are in immediate danger, the sheriff's office will take them.
"If we needed to, if we felt that that was necessary, yes, we would seize them. We do have facilities that we could work with. It's very difficult, but if they are in that kind of condition we will take the steps necessary to make sure that they're taken care of," Johnson said.
Johnson says they try to deal with other similar animal neglect cases this way by trying to help the owners and animals stay together if they can, but if it isn't safe, they must take them away.
Johnson explained some of these cases are tied to economic problems or sometimes an abundance of animals in the area. He says sometimes people take on more animals than they can realistically pay to care for.
KTVB was unable to get in touch with the animals' owner today. The sheriff says she's expected to appear in court for the neglect charges this month.