CATALDO, Idaho-- The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office is investigating reports that horses are being abused at a horse ranch in Cataldo that bills itself as an equine rescue operation.
Deputies are looking into whether the horses were neglected or if they were malnourished when the ranch got them in the first place.
Lt. Stu Miller said people complained horses at the facility appeared malnourished.
Miller's agency and others are now trying to determine whether the animals were accepted in that condition -- or were neglected after arriving.
Dawn Dempsey, a horse rescuer from Sandpoint, believes Mustang Ranch is mistreating its animals.
KREM 2 News spoke with neighbors who rescued over half a dozen horses from the ranch. They said something needs to change.
"They weren’t feeding them. I mean, they were eating the fences,” said neighbor Jarret Baker.
Baker and two other friends bartered for seven horses that he said were in need of saving.
Another woman said she took a horse from the ranch and had to put it down because it was so malnourished.
"She was in a lot of pain and she was groaning. And so I had the vet come out and euthanize her,” said neighbor Candi Beeler.
KREM 2 News was advised to not go on the ranch’s property.
Phone calls to Sean and Bonny Black, owners of the ranch, were not returned.
No charges have been filed against the owners.
Idaho brand inspectors and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are assisting in the scrutiny of Mustang Ranch and Rescue in Cataldo.