Some were underweight, others had open wounds, more still were unable to move. That was the condition of 30 horses seized Thursday from a 12 acre ranch in Mill City.
Deputies from the Linn County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at Walker Ranch as part of a five week investigation into allegations of animal neglect and mistreatment. Neighbors reported seeing malnourished horses throughout the property's twelve acres. A preliminary examination from a cooperating veterinarian confirmed the concerns and deputies moved in.
"It's just all around. It's not just one small group. It's all of them," explains Cindy Kingsburry of Linn County Animal Rescue.
On the property, detectives found 116 horses including thirty so malnourished they were seized and sent to foster homes for rehabilitation. It's being called the worst case of horse neglect Linn County has ever seen. Sheriff Tim Mueller says some of the seized horses won't survive.
"The brutal reality is, some of them will have to be put down."
Upon serving the warrant, investigators found little food and water. What was available was far from adequate.
"One of the stalls had a bucket of water in it, and the water in it was full of feces," says Deputy Carl Ang.
According to the Linn County Sheriff's Office, Tania Herring, 30, leases the property from a trust controlled by Pioneer Trust Bank in Salem. Herring reportedly told investigators many of the horses were unhealthy when she received them and she was merely nursing them back to health.
"All of us neighbors have noticed that when we drive by we don't like what we see," says Mary Walker, the ranch's namesake.
The property, which has been out of Walker's control for years, used to be a thoroughbred training facility. Walker and other neighbors haven't seen healthy horses here in months.
"They had seven or eight in one pasture, one field there that was really sad looking," says neighbor James Wright.
Though Tania Herring has never been convicted of animal neglect in her past, The Linn County Sheriff's Office confirms she has been the focus of similar investigations. If convicted in this case, they'll ask that she never be allowed to own horses again.