Expert: Law enforcement getting better at animal neglect cases

Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 00:33:56-04


EL PASO COUNTY – Monday marked the latest chapter in an ongoing battle against animal neglect in southern Colorado.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office’s Rural Enforcement Outreach team conducted a search warrant on a property near Ellicott after receiving multiple tips from concerned citizens.

They found two deceased horses and 10 horses severely emaciated. The owner was notified, the 10 horses were seized and deputies took samples from the dead horses for a necropsy that will determine future action.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office provided this photo of one of 10 horses seized from an owner in eastern El Paso County as part of a search warrant. They also found two dead horses.

News 5 was curious whether this type of animal neglect is becoming more common in the area, especially El Paso County.

Carrie Terroux-Barrett, director of the Colorado Horse Rescue Network, said she doesn’t think people are neglecting their animals more often, but that law enforcement around the state are getting better at spotting the abuse.

“People are realizing that with a proper diet, a horse can easily stay fat and happy into its 30s,” Terroux-Barrett said.

Terroux-Barrett received a horse named Bernadette from a sheriff’s office surrender last month as part of an animal neglect case. She said the horse came in horrible condition.

“The body condition doesn’t go any lower than a 1, and if it did, she would be lower, because she was probably the thinnest horse I’ve seen alive,” she said.

Now, Bernadette has personality. She’s put on 150 pounds over 30 days and is looking healthier every day.

“She’s gotten playful. She’s gotten silly. She’s gotten fidgety,” Terroux-Barrett said.

So why does these cases keep happening? Terroux-Barrett said a few factors contribute.

First, owners need to do a better job of educating themselves on the importance of proper care, especially for older horses.

Second, horses require a lot of feed, which costs hundreds of dollars each month per horse. Those costs only climb in the winter months — the same time they need the extra weight to stay healthy.

“It takes a lot of horse management to keep a horse in good condition this time of year,” Terroux-Barrett said.