A nearly yearlong investigation of animal cruelty by animal protection officers ended this month when two Redmesa residents surrendered the last of four horses they were accused of mistreating.
Two mares were transferred to Spring Creek Horse Rescue in Gem Village, one died and the owners claimed they sold another, Jon Patla, director of animal protection, said Wednesday.
“We dealt with this couple for at least two years,” Patla said. “Every time we were set to bring charges, they’d buy a bale of hay or two so we couldn’t move ahead.”
Probably a half-dozen callers reported that the horses were being neglected, Patla said. They cited lack of food and water and generally poor physical condition, he said.
Animal protection officers essentially took over care of the horses last winter, Patla said.
When it became clear that the couple wasn’t responsive, the La Plata County District Attorney’s office struck an agreement not to prosecute if the last two horses were surrendered.
“We’re not happy with the result, but we did what we could,” Patla said. “We were hoping for a stiffer penalty for the defendants.”
The agreement requires the couple to reimburse the La Plata County Humane Society for the cost of food, medical care and officers’ transportation to Redmesa, Patla said.
An animal protection officer made trips daily to feed the horses and perform welfare checks, Patla said.
“It remains to be seen if they pay,” Patla said.
The horses transferred to Spring Creek Horse Rescue are mares,
One, a 25- to 30-year-old bay, will be a lifer at Spring Creek because of age and precarious physical condition, Patla said.
The other is a 3- to 6-year-old sorrel that is a prime candidate for adoption, Patla said. She already has become accustomed to a saddle, he said.