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2 arrested in Morgan County after deputies say they found dead, malnourished horses on property

Posted at 1:49 PM, Aug 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-08 15:49:41-04

MORGAN COUNTY, Colo. — Two people were arrested and several animals seized after deputies say they found at least five dead horses and starving livestock on the pair’s Morgan County property.

Stacey Lambert, 39, and Erik Topete, 35, are being held in the Morgan County Jail on cruelty to animal charges. The two were arrested last month after complaints of neglected animals in the Goodrich area.

Acting on a search warrant, Morgan County Sheriff’s deputies said they found the dead horses along with several malnourished animals on the property, located in the 4000 block of Road Z.5, on July 28. Eleven horses, 6 goats, 32 head of sheep, 2 pot-belly pigs, and a calf were taken from the couple’s ranch. 

According to a statement from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, the pair reportedly were buying horses scheduled for slaughterhouses and the animals were often found without adequate feed and water. 

When authorities searched the property, they noted in the statement that it was apparent most of the animals had not been fed for some time. Most of the animals had small amounts of water, and some had none.

Deputies said they had been called several times in recent months to this location regarding loose livestock, apparently in search of feed. The Colorado Humane Society has also responded with deputies on many occasions to observe the animals and assist the owners with any care or feed issues, deputies said. 

Deputies said they took the horses to the Harmony Equine Center in Franktown. The remaining livestock was brought to the Colorado Livestock Exchange in Brush. All the animals will be medically evaluated and monitored by veterinarians, and await further legal proceedings.

Deputies said a pickup at the residence was identified as one being involved in a recent hay theft and was impounded.