CRESWELL, Ore. – Dozens of horses are being removed from a property near Creswell after an initial investigation showed they are suffering from severe neglect.
Lane County officials are working together to pursue criminal charges against the horse owner, Gwenyth Davies, who had previous contacts with Lane County Animal Services in 2018 regarding horses in poor condition.
Davies lives at the property with her husband Michael DeLeonardo. In 2018, Davies complied with Lane County Animal Services’ requests and the horses were brought to minimum standards.
On Wednesday, Lane County Animal Services, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office and others were in the process of removing horses from the property.
The current investigation began on Oct. 16, when Lane County Animal Services received photographs of horses that appeared to be severely neglected. The photographs were provided by Emerald Valley Equine Rescue after it received multiple complaints from people who once boarded their horses with Davies.
However, Carol Mingst, the owner of three horses taken from Davies' property, said the Lane County Sheriff's office went too far and her horses were not neglected.
"He is light weight because he has a broken bone in his leg," Mingst said, referring to one of her horses. "He can't have a lot of weight on it. He's also slimmed down because he lost a lot of weight when he was sick."
Due to the large number of involved horses, Lane County reached out to the Oregon Humane Society and rescue organizations to begin identifying people who could help with the evaluation, removal, treatment and housing of so many large animals – which far exceeds local capacity.
The Lane County District Attorney’s Office is working with Oregon Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney Jake Kamins, who specializes in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases.
“Ms. Davies is known to Animal Services,” said Bernard Perkins, Lane County senior animal welfare officer. “While we typically focus on voluntary compliance and education, the level of alleged neglect and Ms. Davies’ history of violations goes far beyond what is acceptable in our community. We are grateful for the support of the sheriff’s office and district attorney in the pursuit of criminal charges.”
Many of the horses will be transported to an alternate location for further veterinary examination and treatment. Sound Equine Options, a Gresham-based rescue organization, will transport horses to its facility near Portland.
Sound Equine Options, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was founded in 2009 to assist the growing number of neglected, abused and abandoned horses in our community. Its mission is to save the lives of horses through support, education, rehabilitation, training and adoption.
In addition, to Sound Equine Options, Emerald Valley Horse Rescue, Oregon Humane Society, and Lane County Land Management Division are all assisting with the rescue operation and property compliance issues.