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Vets: Don't give horses back to owner
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Saturday, March 15, 2014 5:00 AM
State veterinarians have found that 20 horses out of dozens seized from a Dupont farm in January were emaciated and in "immediate jeopardy."
More than 80 horses were confiscated from two rental properties of Jeff Hayes, who faces criminal charges of animal cruelty and improper disposal of dead animals.
State veterinarians evaluated 51 horses from Jan. 15 to Feb. 7 and recommended the animals not be put back into Hayes' care. The findings were submitted to the court Wednesday by request of Superior Court Judge Alison Frazier.
While more than 80 horses were confiscated and sent to several foster care locations, Frazier only requested the one veterinarian assessment, which covers the majority of the animals.
The report shows that of the 51 horses evaluated, 19 were very thin while just 18 were in the normal range of moderately thin and moderately fleshy. Two horses were rated in poor condition, which is the lowest rating. The state used the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System to access the horses.
Some of the horses were evaluated after having been in foster care for one month, so it's likely those improved in health since the seizure, the report said.
The state veterinarian determined that Hayes was not providing the level of nutrition necessary and asked the court to permanently remove the animals from his care.
"Some of the lowest scoring animals, probably would not have survived if they had not been seized and put under the care of someone beside Mr. Hayes," the report said.
The veterinarian report was ordered because the county submitted a motion to the court for permission to dispose of the animals through adoption. Earlier this month, sheriff's Deputy Yancy Denning - who led the investigation - testified that the confiscated horses bring a care cost of about $20,000 a month.
The county has not yet paid the invoices, and Frazier has ordered Hayes to pay a $60,000 cash bond for the animals' care costs through March. The bond was due Friday.
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