Dozens of horses seized from Pierce County farm

Dozens of horses seized from Pierce County farm
GRAHAM, Wash. -- Dozens of sick horses who were living in dark, urine and feces covered barns were seized by Pierce County animal control officers Wednesday morning near Graham.

Officers served a search warrant at the farm in the area of the 30800 block of Meridian East in response to another law enforcement agency's concerns over the health of horses on the property, said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who oversees the county's animal control office.

Officers found 39 horses on the property living in deplorable conditions, Anderson said. Many of the horses had medical issues, some were very thin, and some have various types of injuries.

Brian Bowman with Animal Control said some of the horses lived in the dark.

"Lots of standing urine, feces… some of the barns where the horses were kept are pitch black," he said. "The horses have maybe a pin hole they can see out of for any kind of light, period."

All of the horses are being removed and taken to an undisclosed location for veterinary care and to be held as evidence, Anderson said.

Anderson said agencies from around the area are assisting with transporting and feeding the horses while they are in custody, and 1 ton of feed is being delivered to feed the horses.

"This is the largest seizure of horses that Pierce County Animal Control has ever undertaken," Anderson said in a news release. "Horses are expensive animals to seize and provide care for."

Vets believe the worst signs of neglect are not immediately visible, saying many horses have tumors, facial wounds and hoof problems. Also not immediately visible are more potential problems to come --
many of these horses may be pregnant.

"There's an unusual number of stallions we're seizing… clearly a breeding operation," Anderson said. "No foals or babies. I'm sure what we'll find during the examination is pregnant mares."

If prosecutors decide to file charges against the animal owners, they could face charges of second degree animal cruelty.