ALBANY, Ore. -- The Linn County Sheriff's Office said a total of 14 horses have died on a property outside of Lebanon where authorities seized 34 horses last week. Meanwhile, the non-profit taking care of the rescued horses is asking for donations.
Lt. Michelle Duncan with the Linn County Sheriff's Office said horse owner Carol Davidson was cited earlier this year for not properly disposing of a dead horse and was working with law enforcement to improve the conditions. Duncan said the 13 other dead horses were found at the back of the property and weren't discovered until earlier this month.
After seeing the dead horses and noticing the worsening condition of the surviving ones, Duncan said deputies got a search warrant to seize the surviving animals. Duncan said she's not sure if finding the carcasses sooner would have sped up the search warrant.
"It would really depend on the condition of the living horses," Duncan said. "There would have to be a more in-depth investigation on why the horses that were back there died when they died. I really can't speculate that in itself would have spurred the search warrant."
The surviving horses were taken to the Portland-area nonprofit "Sound Equine Options." Marie Naughton, the group's vice-president, said she couldn't go into the specifics of the rescue since the case is still pending but said several of the mares are visibly pregnant, so their numbers could grow to 44 or more.
"I think our largest seizure has been 19 horses before, so this is almost double if you count the foals we are expecting," Naughton said.
Sound Equine Options is seeking donations to help cover the cost of caring for the horses, which is estimated to total as much as $85,000. Naughton said they spend, on average, $2,500 per horse, which includes the veterinary care, rehabilitation, and training needed to find each horse a suitable, permanent home.
Charges against Carol and Edward Davidson are still pending. Duncan said they will be charged with 34 separate charges of 2nd-degree animal neglect.
"With the number of animals involved that does rise to a felony level," Duncan said.
To donate to Sound Equine Options click here.