Six horses were seized Thursday from property north of Hermosa in a case of suspected animal cruelty, a situation animal protection officers have been monitoring and investigating for about eight months.
La Plata County Animal Protection took the animals from a property in the 35000 block of U.S. Highway 550, near the intersection with County Road 250C, about 10 miles north of Durango.
The horses were “extremely thin” with their ribs and skeletal structures showing through their hides, said Travis Woehrel, director of the agency.
The animals have been impounded and will remain there until the owner, who Woehrel did not name, completes a process through the court and has shown he is willing to take care of the animals. The owner will keep ownership of the animals and must pay “cost of care” for the horses while the animals are impounded, Woehrel said.
The animals lacked food and water, Woehrel said, a condition the agency first heard about in April.
Tim McCarthy, who said his twin brother, Tom McCarthy, owns the horses, called the condition the animals were in “disgusting.” The brush on the field has been grazed to the dirt, he said.
“It’s a sad deal because it’s my brother. I’ve been feeding those horses for him up there. The owner of the property was unaware of it, and he filed a complaint with the sheriff,” he said.
A Durango woman who cares for horses and drives past the property daily said she was concerned enough for the animals that she fed them herself. She declined to be named because of her proximity to the property.
“I own a bunch of horses so I kind of can tell,” she said of the animals’ poor condition. “If mine were in that shape ... I would never let them get in that shape.”
The woman said she has seen hay left out for the animals on occasion, but other times, the horses would go for months without food in the field.
“I just watched the weight come off those animals,” she said.