MOLALLA, Ore. -- Nine thin, malnourished horses were rescued from a property in Molalla on Tuesday.
Officials with the Oregon Humane Society said eight of the nine horses were underweight.
OHS received tips from people in the area who were worried about the horses.
Some people reported that the horses didn't have access to food or water and that they were standing in deep mud. The cold weather also had some concerned that the horses may not survive the winter.
Sharon Harmon, the President of the Oregon Humane Society said an OHS Humane special agent went out and checked on the horses multiple times. They asked the owners to feed them more and improve their living environment. She said the owners didn't make the changes.
“We’re there to help. At first it’s an olive branch unless there is abject cruelty. We’re there to help people find resources,” said Harmon.
Because Harmon said the owners did not take adequate steps toward a solution, OHS worked with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to get a search warrant in order to take the horses off the property.
Harmon said taking action was the only option. She said seeing the horses in such a poor state, was a disappointment.
“Folks have a lot of options that don't involve neglecting their pets. They can rehome them, they can reach out for assistance, they can find a new place for them. All of those options are available. No animal needs to suffer,” Harmon said.
She said it's possible the owners could face criminal charges. At this point, none has been filed yet as the investigation continues.
In Oregon, second degree animal neglect can result in fines of up to $2,500 and six months in jail.
The nine horses are being cared for at an undisclosed location by Sound Equine Options, a nonprofit based out of Troutdale.
While the horses in this case aren't ready for new homes yet, Harmon said OHS has six horses from another case earlier this year that were rescued from a similar situation. Those horses are ready for new, loving homes.
If you see an animal being abused or neglected, you can report it on the humane society website.
Harmon said OHS investigates about 1,500 reported cases of animal cruelty every year. Between 50-75 of those cases result in citations.