HELENA, Mont. (AP) — About 60 horses have been seized from a ranch in Montana after police believe the animals were being neglected, authorities said.
The Lewis and Clark County sheriff's office moved 58 horses on Tuesday to the county fairgrounds so two veterinarians could assess the condition of the horses in states of neglect ranging from moderate to severe, The Independent Record reported.
The assessment will be used to criminally charge the owner of the horses. The sheriff’s office has not yet identified the owner.
About 15 law enforcement officials, including a U.S. Forest Service ranger and a Department of Livestock employee, acted on a search warrant that was served Tuesday, Sheriff Leo Dutton said. Neighboring ranch workers also offered to help.
The sheriff's office purchased bales of hay to feed the horses, but Dutton said the department will need help to provide up to 25 bales required daily to feed the animals. He said he hopes horse sanctuaries can help support the string of horses.
Authorities also said the horses will probably need deworming medication, which must be paid for by the sheriff's office, and at least one horse will likely have to be euthanized because of its poor condition.
The department's animal control officer conducted the initial investigation, following tips from concerned individuals, Undersheriff Brent Colbert said.
When asked if he had ever seen a case like this, Dutton said “Of this severity? Not in my career. I’ve only been doing this for 35 years.”
He added: “It’s difficult to see animals that have not been taken care of.”