Video shows dire conditions at Pierce Co. farm where horses seized

Video shows dire conditions at Pierce Co. farm where horses seized »Play Video
NEAR GRAHAM, Wash. -- Newly-released video reveals the dire conditions at a Pierce County farm where animal control officers seized 39 horses.

Deputies say the animals were neglected, covered in dirt and kept in filthy conditions in a home simply crawling with clutter.

But the owners' attorney argues they were nothing but loving to their animals.

"My clients love their 39 horses," said attorney Lance Hester. "He gets home from work and he spends the rest of his evening every single day working on behalf of those horses."

The animals were seized Wednesday morning from a farm along Meridian Avenue near Graham. Many were suffering from medical issues. Some were kept lived in the dark, and were never let out of their stables, according to county officials.

But a neighbor, who is also a veterinarian, believes some of what was allegedly happening on the farm can be explained.

"It's not the best, of course, to not have a horse get out and be able to exercise," said Dr. Charles Barth. "Some of these were stallions, and of course, you can't mix the stallions with other horses."

The Pierce County auditor fears it may be tough for the county to care for the animals as a result of budget cuts. Early estimates show food, shelter and medical care for the animals will cost nearly $40,000.

"This is just the cost of doing business, and if we're going to make it illegal to treat animals in a cruel and neglectful manner, then we have to be able to enforce that," said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson.

The auditor said she dipped into a contingency fund Wednesday night to cover the initial cost of the horse rescue.

Complicating things is the fact that this is an election year. If any local political race ends with a tiny margin, the auditor's budget -- the same budget that covers the cost of these horses' care -- must pay for any recounts.

Those who wish to make a donation are urged to contact the auditor's office directly.