Owners Of Sick Horses To Be Charged With Animal Cruelty

Seized Horses Now Improving, Park County Sheriff's Office Says

The owners of six horses seized by authorities will be charged with animal cruelty, the Park County Sheriff's Office announced.

The horses were seized from Echo Valley Ranch last week. During the seizure, one of the horses died. A necropsy determined the cause of death was an infection, specifically, a bacterial abscess near the horse’s heart, the sheriff's office said Thursday.

"However, we feel that the owners of the horses should have contacted a qualified veterinarian much earlier than they did," Undersheriff Monte Gore said.

Since then, the Park County Sheriff’s Office worked with the horse owners to have the remaining horses placed in a safe location where they would be out of the elements and could receive the care they needed.

"The six horses that were seized have shown improvement since being removed from the Echo Valley Ranch. The fact that they are all improving is a good sign," Gore said.

The owners will be charged with three counts each of animal cruelty, Gore said.

Gore did not identify the owners but 7NEWS has confirmed that one of the owners is Ron Swift.

Swift said botulism was suspected in making his horses ill, but sources close with the investigation told 7NEWS they believe the horses weren’t getting food and water.

Veterinarians treating one of the rescued horses told CALL7 Investigators that they saw the other horses and believed they were malnourished.

Veterinarian Amy Murdock said her coworkers saw "lots of horses that were underfed, poor conditions, not much food or water, if any, and several downed horses."

She said one of the seized horses, "Little Big Man," was urinating and defecating on itself because it wasn't able to get up.

"We actually had to physically lift him to help him stand," Murdock said.

On Thursday morning the horses were officially seized under court order by the Park County Sheriff’s Office Code Enforcement Division.

"We felt the horses had improved enough to be transported. The six horses were placed at a location outside of Park County. The undisclosed location has on-site veterinarians to monitor their conditions and attend to their needs. Due to the attention this case has generated the facility has requested to remain anonymous. We will honor their request," Gore said.

The Park County Sheriff's Office said it has received numerous calls from people who want to help the horses.

Those who want to help can contact Sgt. Bobbi Priestly at 719-836-2494.

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