YERINGTON, NV - A disturbing trend is hitting northern Nevada this summer. Starving and abused horses are being taken from owners who can't or won't take care of them. One of the most recent cases comes out of Lyon County. where 18 horses from non-profit organization that professed to be a horse rescue operation, were seized.
Lyon County Sheriffs deputies confiscated the 18 starving horses last Monday.
Underweight, their ribs and hip bones sticking out, many have not seen a farrier in a long time, their hooves have grown out.
A veterinarian in this case determined on a scale of 1-to-10 in terms of body composition---these animals were a one or two.
“ The owners of the horses were cited in the Walker River Justice Court and my understanding is, they have a court date of August 8th,” says Jeff Page, Lyon Count y Manger.
The horses came from a place called Frontier Ranch.
Established in 2004 it is a non-profit organization, that claims to take in unwanted horses, and quote: “rescue and replace horses as fast as possible."
On its 2007 tax form Frontier Ranch claimed more than $24,000 dollars in gifts and grants and said its primary purpose was to expose high risk and handicapped children to the ranching lifestyle.
And presumably it all went on at Dove Lane in Yerington.
The property is in disarray.
The pens are void of any manure.
Investigators say that's because the 18 horses they picked up were eating it as there was nothing else provided.
Back in 2009 the president of Frontier Ranch put out a call for hay donations to the ranch, we don't know how successful that was.
But we do know animal control was out there a couple of times over the years.
Page says when warned the owners complied.
“The vet would go out and check on the horses to make sure they were fed properly, and make sure they were nourished, and they were compliant,” says Page
Neighbors say at one time Frontier Ranch had about one hundred horses on this property.
They say the the ranch sold them.
We attempted to contact Laura Smith listed as the Secretary of the Ranch, and who ultimately faces $21,000 dollars in fines for animal cruelty, but phone numbers listed no longer work, or messages have gone unanswered.
Smith's attorney declined to talk about his client's case.
But he did say would probably waive the initial appearance in Justice Court on August 8th.
Until this case is settled, Lyon County has custody of the 18 horses.
Local farmers have donated hay to feed them and get them up to weight.