The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office seized 16 horses, including one foal, with varying degrees of starvation and otherwise poor health after serving a search warrant on property near Olson Road in Sequim on Feb. 16.
Two of the horses were estimated to be 50 pounds underweight and the rest 100 to 200 pounds underweight, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
Ron Cameron, Clallam County Sheriff chief criminal deputy, said a licensed large animal veterinarian accompanied the Sheriff’s Office to assess the condition of the horses.
Tracey Kellas, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office animal control deputy, had developed probable cause to investigate a report of horses not receiving adequate care, Cameron said.
Interviews and eyewitness reports indicated the horses, believed to be owned by Buffy Campbell, 41, and her daughter Heather Gouldart, 19, were in very poor physical condition, he said.
The veterinarian gave two of the horses only a 50/50 chance of survival, with one placed on antibiotics for infected wounds, and all the horses showed varying degrees of starvation and malnutrition, Cameron said.
Because of the pervasive and obviously long-term slow starvation and neglect of the entire herd, all of the horses were seized and held by the Sheriff’s Department for evidence and safekeeping, Cameron said.
Since their seizure, the horses have had hay available to them 24 hours a day. The first two round bales and one bale of hay for the horses were donated and delivered by Don and Marie Still of Sequim.
As of Monday, Kellas said the horses are doing a bit better, Cameron said.
The Sheriff’s Office has had a huge response from people and groups offering assistance in caring for the horses.
The investigative report completed by the Sheriff’s Office will be forwarded to the prosecutor for complete review and consideration of appropriate charges, Cameron said.
Washington state law requires providing the horse owner 15 days to request the return of the horses. If no request is made or the court denies the return of the animals or orders forfeiture of the animals, the Sheriff’s Office will seek to remove them from safekeeping status and place them with valid and approved rescue organizations.
Any individuals or organizations looking to assist with the care of these animals during their time of need are encouraged to contact Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron at the Sheriff’s Office at 417-2570.