Monday, February 6, 2012

Crook County SO Caring for 20 Seized Horses

The Crook County Sheriff's Office is in a familiar, costly situation, caring for seized, allegedly neglected horses while a caretaker was in court Thursday for arraignment on animal neglect charges.

The day after three months of investigation led to a raid on property along Highway 126 in Powell Butte, Timothy Coffia was arraigned on 20 counts of second-degree animal neglect.

Each count has a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

While deputies continue their investigation, possibly looking to ties to other people associated with the ranch which was the site of a previous neglect case, they also have their hands full caring for the horses.

Eight of the horses have been moved to the Crook County Fairgrounds in Prineville. They are the worst of the group, all scoring between 1.0 and 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 9 (9 being the healthiest).

They are getting care and, most importantly, eating hay to start adding on weight. Many have their ribs showing and scars on their skin.

Before deputies intervened, there were 60 horses on the property, 20 deemed as "neglected."

The sheriff's office now has authority to go onto the property to care for the remaining horses. It's a costly proposition, with the last case of animal neglect at the same ranch in 2009, adding up to $100,000 in costs since. Community donations and national interest from animal protection groups have helped defray the cost.
It took three months of complaints and investigation to get a search warrant before seizing the animals. In part, that was because the people at the ranch would not cooperate.

"Unfortunately, in this situation, as with the last case, we were not granted access to the property. The residents were uncooperative, so we basically had to stand on the roadside and gather our information from there," said sheriff's Sgt. James Savage..."  More & video

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