39 sick horses seized from Pierce County property

Sep 26, 2012

GRAHAM, Wash. – Dozens of horses were seized Wednesday from a Pierce County property where authorities said they were living in squalid conditions.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department took 39 sick or starving horses from the property in Graham. Among the horses recovered were a dozen Arabians and some stallions.

Julie Anderson, the Pierce County Auditor, who oversees Animal Control, says officers entered a sunless, airless stable holding dozens of Arabians, Appaloosas and Cheshires.

“One of the barns had literally a foot of compacted manure and urine. Very, very hard to breathe, and the horses had not been handled or been outside in an exceedingly long time,” Anderson said.  

Anderson was watering the rescued horses as she described what she called the “deplorable” conditions they were found in.

Large-scale breeding operation

The horses were relocated to a county-owned barn, where they’re being cared for by veterinarians.

Anderson says officers discovered evidence of a large-scale breeding operation that one official compared to a puppy mill. She says the owner of the facility, who is not being named, could be charged with second-degree animal neglect.

Anderson says her office responds to calls like this about once a year, but never one so large.

She expects the price tag to reach at least 40-thousand dollars, and hopes members of the public will step up with both donations and help adopting the animals.