The spine of a horse sticks out of its body. The horse was removed from a property Thursday in rural Oakland after allegations of neglect. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Horses removed from property on allegations of neglect

Published 9:01am Friday, January 11, 2013

OAKLAND — The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of animal neglect of three horses and a pony at a rural Oakland property — one of which died this week.

A horse drinks from a bucket of water Friday at an undisclosed location after being taken from a property on allegations of neglect. — Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

The Appaloosa horse that died was reportedly emaciated — described as being “like skin and bones,” according to sheriff’s deputy Ron Wacholz, who saw the horse on Wednesday prior to its death.

Walcholz and representatives from the Freeborn County Humane Society removed the remaining animals — two Arabian horses and one Shetland pony — from 23939 885th Ave. with a search warrant on Thursday. They are now being held at another location.

The deputy said when he was informed of the possible neglect on Wednesday, he found the horses under a shelter with a sagging roof. The shelter was small for all four of the animals to fit in comfortably.

Sheriff Bob Kindler speaks about the condition of two horses and a pony that were removed from a property located at 23939 885th Ave. A third horse died the night before the others were removed.

The Appaloosa horse was lying in a distressed state on the ground and trying to stand up, he said. It died overnight.

Though there was water for the horses, the open water tank was covered in algae, he said. There was poor-quality hay and no corn, oats or barley at the property. The ground was covered in feces.

Freeborn County Humane Society Director Christa Stieler said she believes the remaining horses and pony may have worms or some other parasite and are bloated because of it.

Carolyn Schwandt, a volunteer for the Humane Society, feeds a horse that was taken off of a rural Oakdale property Thursday on allegations of neglect. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

That, combined with the animals’ winter coats, makes it difficult to see their true condition, Stieler said.

The animals are expected to be examined by a veterinarian in the next couple days.

Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler said no charges have been filed as of Friday morning, and the Sheriff’s Office is waiting for the completion of the examinations. He hoped to have more information Monday.

He would not release the names of the owners as the investigation is ongoing.

Wacholz said the owners have the right to contest the search warrant and the validity of the complaint within 10 days. If the owners do not contest the search, the animals are forfeited to the Humane Society.

“We’re going to be working hard over these next 10 days,” Stieler said. “These three need to be placed in permanent homes.”