Based on a court order issued on January 8, over 60 malnourished and starving horses were placed into the care of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department in South Dakota.
The department received a complaint in December 2012. It was then that the South Dakota Animal Industry Board personnel became aware of 69 horses confined on 35 acres without adequate food or water.
According to Sheriff Kevin Thom of the Pennington County Sherriff’s Department, a veterinarian was called in to examine the animals and determine their overall condition. Animal welfare personnel set out to negotiate with the horses’ owners, Donald and Terry Harwood, to reach some kind of agreement to improve the care and upkeep of the horses. However, there was no discernible improvement and the court order to remove the horses was issued on the 8th of January.
“At the time of the removal all the horses including several pregnant mares were in poor condition,” Thom said.
He continued, "You can imagine 69 horses on 35 acres. The ground was smooth as a tabletop."
The South Dakota Animal Industry Board joined forces with the Sheriff’s Department to conduct a cooperative investigation. Their results have been turned over for additional review by the Pennington County State's Attorney's Office.
Thom said that he expects charges to be filed late next week.
Until a further decision is forthcoming, the confiscated horses will remain in the care of community volunteers and the Sheriff’s Department personnel.
Donald and Terry Harwood were unavailable for comment.
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