Private citizens in Washington State have come forward regarding horses they say are starving in Snohomish, Wash. – and after one of the horses was taken from the property, animal advocates feared that the horse may still be in danger. On Monday night, May 27, Snohomish County Animal Control (SCAC) confirmed that one of the horses was taken from the property on E. Lowell-Larimer Road in Snohomish, Wash. and is currently in a safe area.
SCAC wants animal advocates to know that the seized horse remains safe during the investigation.
“The bay Thoroughbred gelding was seized on Friday with a search warrant and is currently in our care and protective custody; he is not at a livestock auction,” stated Vicki Lubrin, Animal Control Services Manager.
“He is being well cared for in a safe location under the attending veterinarian’s prescription for care and feeding. He is very much alive.
“We all understand that cases like this draw a lot of attention from the public and media.
“But we must proceed carefully so as not to jeopardize the integrity of the case and compromise the outcome for the animals involved.
“Most importantly, we must act within the scope of the law.
“Unfortunately, we cannot disclose all of the details and actions taken by this office that will give everyone confidence this case is being handled by trained, experienced and credentialed officers working closely with an equine veterinarian with more than 30 years of experience.”
Lubrin added: “As I mentioned before, we continue to work closely with our Prosecutors on this case.”
The horses belong to Snohomish resident and horse trader Phil Roder, who currently has 13 adult Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses and two foals on his property. After seizing the adult Thoroughbred, 14 horses who likely still need help remain on the property.
Roeder was recently cited for animal cruelty and neglect and told to correct these issues. Roeder has 15 days from the violation orders to file his appeal and Animal Control officers will forward their findings to the prosecutor to consider charges if he does not make the necessary corrections.
According to witness Kirstan Sanders, the horses – and the bay Thoroughbred in particular – are in very poor condition.
“There was a big, bay, emaciated horse with chunks of hair falling out and scabby skin,” Sanders stated.
“His pin bones stuck out on his hips. Inches of his spine stuck up and all his bones showed. I thought, surely, this is a fresh rescue horse.”
Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, Roeder denies that any of his quarter horses or thoroughbreds have died.
“There’s no skinny horses dying out there,” he stated.
Roeder indicated that he has a plan to help his underweight horses.
“That’s why I put her in here – she needs a little extra,” the horse trader explained about one of his horses.
“She’s never been sick; none of these horses are sick.”
Those who have seen the horses say that it is a clear case of animal cruelty. Multiple people have asked Animal Control to intervene on the horses’ behalf and move forward with an animal cruelty case.
The horses on E. Lowell Larimer Road, show ribs and hip bones, misshapen hooves, and skin conditions.
According to Jaime Taft, founder and recently retired president of Save A Forgotten Equine (SAFE), Roeder may be a horse trader, but he is not experienced in the actual care of horses. Taft is one of 22 people who contacted Snohomish County Animal Control (SCAC) complaining about Roeder’s horses.
According to Taft, the neglectful situation has been going on for years.
“I’m trying to get people to realize that vigilante justice is not the answer; we still need to rely on the system to get the horses safe and to punish the offender, but that the answer is to do whatever is necessary to get someone to recognize that the system, in this county, is severely flawed,” Taft stated.
According to Snohomish County Licensing and Animal Control Services (SCAC) Manager, Vicki Lubrin, who discussed the case this morning, the investigation is well underway.
“The case is still considered an open, active investigation; therefore, we cannot disclose the details of the case nor all of the actions taken to date by this office so as not to compromise the integrity of the case. There are 13 adult horses that were assessed by the veterinarian. The owner was issued an Immediate Corrective Action Order that he must comply with.
“The Animal Control Officers are in regular contact with the owner on-site and the case remains open at this time,” Lubrin added.
During their investigation, animal control officers and a veterinarian discovered fungal infections, inadequate hoof care in all 13 adult horses, and no quality food. Roeder was cited for cruelty and neglect and told to correct these issues.
“I feed them what’s economical. It keeps them healthy so I can make a break even or little on them,” Roeder said.
Despite numerous witness statements to the contrary, Roeder insists that he would have made all of the changes without being told.
He plans to appeal the violation orders.
Seattle Pets Examiner will continue to provide updates to this story as they occur.
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