More than two dozen starving horses taken from a West Plains ranch Saturday are doing better after SCRAPS executed a search warrant at the Deno Road property after several complaints about horses that appeared to be "walking skeletons."
The Saturday morning raid turned up 25 horses a veterinarian said were so malnourished they were close to starving to death.
"We're removing about 25 horses with a body condition score of one or two, which is very poor, and have been identified by a veterinarian as at risk and when we arrived none of those horses had food, none of them," Nancy Hill with SCRAPS said.
SCRAPS officials knew they had to take the at-risk horses and called on a rescue group for help.
The Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team specializes in moving endangered livestock.
"Well we were on-site to help SCRAPS with the seizure of the animals and to trailer them to the fairgrounds here and to bed them down in their stalls," Donna Breidenbach with HEART said.
Moving the animals involved more than a dozen trips up and down Sunset Hill to get them all off the property and to the fairgrounds.
"They quieted down rather quickly. By the time we all left Saturday afternoon it was silent here. They were all happy with food and water and a safe bed," Breidenbach said.
The HEART volunteers were back at the fairgrounds Monday morning for another round of food and water for the horses.
"We're all animal lovers of all kinds, and so for us to be able to go out help other animals that are in dire situations for them, that makes us feel better because we have pets at home," Breidenbach said.
Jan Hickerson owns the seized animals and said because she buys unwanted horses some of the herd is always a work in progress and insists the horses were getting fed.
"I have three hired people, full time. One guy does nothing but water during the day. One guy does nothing but feed and help with errands and haul hay and the third does where ever we need extra assignment," she said.
However a district court judge saw photos of the horses she agreed the horses needed to be seized.
The horses will remain for the time being at the fairgrounds as they are now evidence in an upcoming animal cruelty case against Hickerson, who was previously convicted of letting two horses starve to death in Kootenai County back in 2007.
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