YERINGTON, NV - New information on a story of 18 emaciated horses seized by Lyon County a little more than a week ago. The horses came from a charity organization that professed to be a horse rescue operation. One Washoe Valley resident who retired her horse at Frontier Ranch in Yerington says she felt comfortable leaving an aged family horse there. But we found out some information that could change her mind.
The horses are under the care of Lyon County now, they came from a professed horse rescue operation off of Dove Lane just outside of Yerington.
A veterinarian assigned to the case gave the horses scores of ones and twos in terms of body weight--the lowest those scores can go.
Investigators say the horses at Frontier Ranch were eating their own manure as that was all that was provided.
“If I had any reservations, about where I was taking her, I would not have left her there,” says Kristi Pattison from Washoe Valley.
Back in April 2010 Pattison says she dropped off her mother-in-laws aged horse Arline at Frontier Ranch.
She says she signed a contract with the facility that the horse was not to be ridden, but, it was understood she says, the horse would stay on the ranch with other elderly horses until its final days.
Her description of the facility does not match the ranch we took pictures of about a week ago.
Pastures are dried up, the outside of the home is in disarray.
“My mom went to go visit her, and she took the grand kids it was over the next year she went to see her. She was still there. She was happy fat happy yea,” says Pattison.
Her mother-in- law's horse seemed to fair well.
And from 2008-to-2010 brand inspections show many horses were adopted out.
And with those adoptions came a lengthy contract which required the new owners to maintain the horses health, feet, provide adequate food and water.
Those owners, the contract stated, should never be the subject of an animal control investigation for cruelty, and under no circumstances the contract reads, should the adopted horse be put up for auction or sold to slaughter.
But those rules apparently didn't apply to Frontier Ranch.
“We from animal services in Lyon County were called out there a couple of times over the years,” says Lyon County Manager Jeff Page.
Frontier Ranch may not have been cited by Lyon County.
But a little more than a week ago, the horse rescue operation was cited and fined $21,000 dollars by the state of Nevada for animal cruelty.
By all accounts the animals were not well fed, their feet not maintained---and there is something else we discovered that indicated the Ranch didn't follow a very significant covenant of its own contract.
State brand certificates show 31 horses were sent to a livestock sales yard in Fallon in 2010 where anyone could bid on the animals.
37 more horses went to a known kill buyer-where the horses could be processed for human consumption in Europe and Japan.
Typically the owner of the horses, in this case Frontier Ranch could have received money per pound, as well as a commission when the horse sold to the highest bidder.