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Horse owner facing animal cruelty charges

Donna Breiden Bach, a volunteer with the Humane Evacuation Animal Rescue Team, cares for a horse rescued from a West Plains ranch. About 25 emaciated horses were taken from the home. (Kaitlin Gillespie)

The owner of a ranch near Palisades Park is being charged with 21 counts of animal cruelty stemming from a property search last month that revealed 26 emaciated horses.

Jan Hickerson, 48, will face felony charges of animal cruelty and misdemeanor charges of transporting animals in an unsafe manner when she is arraigned in Spokane County Superior Court on Aug. 19, according to a news release from Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services.

A search of the property at 6805 W. Deno Road north of Airway Heights on July 20 found two dead horses and extremely malnourished mares with foals. On a 1 to 9 health scale with 1 ranking emaciated and 9 ranking obese, many of the horses found rated a 1 or a 2, according to SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill.

Hickerson has an outstanding case of animal cruelty in Spokane County District Court, Hill said in July.

The felony charges Hickerson faces carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to the news release. The misdemeanor charges max out at 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Rescued horses are being treated and seen regularly by a veterinarian, the news release said.