A man living in a truck on the Spokane Indian Reservation agreed late New Year’s Day to give up 33 malnourished horses, some with open sores and overgrown hoofs.
Horse advocates hoped to have some of the horses moved off the property near Wellpinit on Thursday night.
Bureau of Indian Affairs agent Cliff Matterley said he discovered the neglected horses when he went to visit the owner earlier this week.
“He’s been squatting on the property since the landowner passed away,” Matterley said. “A friend of mine and I went up there to help him. We broke a path to get the hay to the horses, two bales at a time.”
Matterley said he worked on the property until midnight.
“It’s pretty bad,” Matterley said about the condition of the horses. “They have been eating the wood off the fences.”
The Stevens County sheriff was called, Matterley said, but it was Spokane Tribal Police that persuaded the man to give up his horses to Shepherd’s Way Animal Rescue in Springdale.
“We know there are 33 horses, we believe there are three dead,” said Carrie Aenk, who runs the nonprofit animal rescue. “There are also a couple of horses down. We don’t know their condition.”
Aenk said there are foals in the herd and a stallion – all in poor condition – and the snow is waist-deep on most of the property. Some of the horses can’t walk, she said.
“They have nothing to drink so they eat snow. That dehydrates them very fast,” Aenk said. “The owner doesn’t have the means to take care of the horses.”
Shepherd’s Way is home to 31 rescued horses, but had 57 just five weeks ago.
“People drop horses off at the ranch all the time; they just tie them up there,” Aenk said. “We are going to see a lot more of these situations where people can’t manage the horses they have.”
Pam Swiderski, owner of Fantasy Farm Thoroughbreds, was trying Thursday to get a trailer to the Wellpinit property to take out two or three horses that are in extremely poor condition.
“They will all need medical care, hoof care and lots of food,” Swiderski said. “We’ll also need volunteers to help take care of them.”
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