GREELEY, Colo. — A investigation is underway into disturbing allegations of animal abuse and neglect in Weld County.
State and local officials gathered at a property on the 5400 block of F Street Saturday to remove nine deceased animals for testing, according to authorities.
The images of the scene have been going viral on social media.
"It was heartbreaking," said Floss Blackburn, executive director of Denkai Animal Sanctuary.
Blackburn has been pushing authorities to investigate the situation.
She said the owner of the property contacted her for help dealing with a renter who was hoarding animals in a pen. Blackburn said she walked around outside the pen in early February and noticed "at least eight or nine dead animals."
She said the carcasses were in various stages of decomposition, and that the guard dog was feeding on one of them.
She said the remaining animals were very hungry.
"They were following me around as I was walking outside that pen," Blackburn said. "They were following me just wanting food."
The tenant, Halina Morley, initially wouldn't let the Weld County Sheriff remove one of the carcasses for testing.
Investigators determined the remaining animals were in good enough shape that criminal charges were not warranted.
On Friday, the Commissioner of Agriculture ordered the carcasses be collected and tested for disease, so crews loaded them up for shipment to a lab at CSU.
Update Tuesday 3:54 p.m.
Morley declined comment Tuesday, saying, "See that sign? It says 'no trespassing.' You're trespassing. Get out of here."
On Sunday night, a Denver7 crew knocked on a neighbor's door, thinking it was was Morley's. The neighbor said "no thank you," when asked for comment.
We regret the error.
Greeley / Weld County line
The pen Morley rents is on the other side of the fence from one of Greeley's tonier neighborhoods, Forest Glen at Kelly Farm.
One resident told Denver7 there is concern about possible disease from the carcasses spreading to pets.
In a news release issued Saturday, the Weld County Sheriff's Office said this remains an active and open investigation by the WCSO and the State Department of Agriculture. The release indicated they will update the results of the diagnostic testing.
Blackburn said investigators could have, and should have, done much more early on.
She said she's glad the carcasses have been removed and that Morley is a little more active taking care of the remaining animals, at least for the time being.
"Our main goal is that those animals stay safe," she said.