OWYHEE COUNTY - A Grand View couple is facing multiple animal cruelty charges after officials say they found several dead animals on their property. At this time, officials say they do not want to release the names of those involved.
The Owyhee County Sheriff's Office says this all started on January 25, when they received a call regarding dead horses and cattle on that couple's property.
Officials say there are 38 out of the 46 owned horses left.
"From the property line I could see dead horses," said Deputy Sheriff Larry Kendrick. "I went up knocked on the door and there was no answer."
He says he circled around back, but no one was home.
"I was able to see there were dead livestock laying everywhere, frozen into the ground," Kendrick said. "It was a horror show."
Kendrick says he came back later and made contact with one of the owners, who took him around the property.
"There were 46 horses and 17 cows," Kendrick said. "Dead on the ground were six dead horses and nine dead cows."
Kendrick says Idaho Department of Agriculture investigators and a state veterinarian were called to the property the next day.
"One of the agriculture investigators, in fact he said that in court, that it was the worst he had ever seen," Kendrick said.
Officials say the horses were in deplorable condition from their fur to their hooves.
"Their hooves have all been neglected and you can see how they're long," said Robert Bruno with Idaho Horse Rescue.
Kendrick says the horses and cows that were still alive on the property were malnourished.
"Their necks were skinny, their ribs were showing through their thick winter fur," Kendrick said.
More than a month later, even after the sheriff's office seized 22 of the remaining horses and have been feeding them, they still show signs of starvation.
Idaho Horse Rescue was able to purchase 17 of the horses two weeks ago through one of the terms of an interim order given by an Owyhee County judge.
"All I wanted to know was how can we save the horses," Bruno said. "Do I have to buy them? Are they going to an auction? What's the deal, how do I get them?"
Another part of the interim order - five of the remaining horses could be adopted by the couple's daughter.
"I'm not sure they think they did anything wrong at this point," Bruno said.
While officials wait for future court dates, the horses bought by Idaho Horse Rescue are being nursed back to health, fed, and put up for adoption.
Kendrick says reserve deputies with the county have been feeding and taking care of the horses they have at this time.
Officials say the man and woman in this case are charged with 23 counts each of animal cruelty and failure to feed and water animals. They also say at a previous hearing the judge decided the couple will not be able to own or care for any livestock for five years.
Kendrick says the next hearing is on Monday morning.
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