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Malnourished horses seized from farm

SPENCER, W.Va. -- Twenty horses, many of them showing apparent signs of malnutrition, spent Monday munching on hay and grain in a barn on the outskirts of Spencer, after they were removed from a Roane County farm where 22 other horses were found dead or unaccounted for on Friday.

After receiving calls about dead and emaciated horses on a farm near Reedy, Roane County law enforcement officials obtained a search warrant for the property on Friday. Once on the scene, they found the carcasses of 14 horses and learned that six other horses had died earlier, according to Roane County Prosecuting Attorney Josh Downey.

"A total of 22 horses were dead or not accounted for," Downey said.

Based on the condition of the surviving horses and the understanding that the animals had been brought to West Virginia from Pennsylvania last summer without appropriate vaccinations and health certificates, the surviving horses were removed from the farm on Saturday.

Sheriff's deputies, State Police, humane officers and state Department of Agriculture personnel rounded up the horses from the 75-acre farm Saturday morning, loaded them in trailers, and brought them to the Spencer-area barn. The animals were placed under quarantine until the results of blood tests verify they are disease-free. Lab results are expected sometime this week.

Deputies who have been feeding the animals say the horses have been consuming 10 bales of hay and 50 pounds of grain a day.

"Since we don't usually have to feed and water our evidence, we welcome donations of hay or grain from the public," Downey said. Those wishing to donate feed, fodder or the funds needed to pay for them, are asked to contact the Roane County Animal Shelter at 304-927-2555 or the Roane County Sheriff's Department at 304-927-3410.

Downey said that as of Monday, no charges had been filed against the woman who owns the horses, but he said "that's likely to change."

The quarantined horses -- two stallions, a 5-month-old colt and the rest mares -- included Arabians, Paints and other breeds.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.


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