Owner of horses: 'I was horrified'

Owner of horses: 'I was horrified'
ROY, Wash. -- A call from her own church has a Pierce County woman accused of animal cruelty.

Forty four Arabian horses used to roam around Darlene Wilson's property. But on Tuesday, Pierce County Animal Control officers took three. And Wilson could face animal cruelty charges.

For four decades, horses paid small bills and fed a huge passion of Wilson's.

"I was able to live my dream -- be here with the horses breed them train them sell them make a living albeit not a lavish lifestyle," she said.

But the lifestyle Wilson's horses ended up with made even their owner wince in disgust.

"I was horrified. I was just horrified," she said.

So were animal control officers, who say the three horses they took - each about 3 years old - were neglected and left standing in stalls with 2 to 3 feet of manure. The horses' underbellies were matted, and their hooves needed medical care, officers said.

Wilson says she saw the mess for the first time just a few weeks ago. She claims she paid someone to care for the animals because debilitating health problems made her practically immobile.

Wilson says she didn't know her horses were living in such dire conditions. She added the economy didn't help when she tried to find new homes for her animals.

"The rescue places are full. Nobody wants to take them. They practically want you to pay them to take them," she said.

Wilson said she called her church, the LDS Church, for help several weeks ago.

Over the last month, the church guesses about 70 volunteers put in up to 500 hours, hauling hard-packed manure, fixing the stalls and making repairs all over the place.

"Somebody had to do something," said Bishop Rick Ardmore. "We had no idea that it would lead to such a big project."

Animal control officers and Wilson are working to to find new and good homes for some of these horses.

The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office will determine whether Wilson will face any charges.