Most severely ill of seized horses undergoing treatment

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — Several of the most critically needy of the 16 malnourished horses seized by the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office last week have been moved from the pasture off Olson Road southwest of Sequim to other properties.

Getting the horses out of the pasture in Sequim was necessary to give those with the most serious needs a chance to recover, said Deputy Tracey Kellas, Clallam County animal control officer, who has been overseeing the care of the herd since it was seized Thursday.

All the horses are making strides toward recovery, Kellas said.

The case has been forwarded to the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and charges against the horses’ owners, Buffy Campbell, 41, and Heather Gouldart, 19, and a third person in their household who has not been named, are expected later this week, Kellas said.

No one has been arrested or charged in the case.

Kellas said she expects to interview Campbell later this week.

The Sheriff’s Office believes Campbell and Gouldart have owned some of the horses for many years, while the others are recent acquisitions.

The owners have 15 days to reclaim the horses through court proceedings.

If the request is denied or not made, the horses will be placed with new owners, possibly a licensed rescue center, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Among the horses moved to facilitate their care was a mare with infected wounds, a gelding with severe dental problems and a mare expected to foal soon.

The infected mare is responding to antibiotics and is eating, and the pregnant mare is in a facility equipped for foaling, Kellas said.

“We don’t want her to foal in the pasture,” she said.

Because the horses are considered to be evidence in the investigation of a crime, they are “behind padlocks,” and their locations are being kept secret by the Sheriff’s Office, Kellas said.

The horses cannot digest alfalfa or orchard grass hay and will eat the simplest grass hay until they have recovered, Kellas said.

Specially formulated mashed horse feed is being prepared for the horse with bad teeth, but his teeth are in such poor shape that once his extreme hunger is sated, the pain of chewing likely will make him stop eating, Kellas said.

An equine dental specialist is being sought to treat the gelding.

The Olympic Peninsula Humane Society is collecting donations to help defray the costs of the special care of the horses.

Donors can stop by the Humane Society shelter at 2105 W. U.S. Highway 101 in Port Angeles, phone the society at 360-457-8206 or donate at any First Federal branch, said Mary Beth Wegener, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society.

Wengener said the Humane Society also will take deliveries of grass hay and Equine Senior horse feed.

The horses especially need salt blocks with selenium and specialized feed, including “senior” and “mare and foal” feed — bagged feeds formulated for special dietary needs.

The fund is being operated under the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society Horse Rescue organization, she said.

The horses are thought to be Arabians, thoroughbreds and American quarter horses, but Kellas said that in many cases, they are so emaciated it is difficult to tell their breed.

Most of the horses are in their prime, from 4 to 14 years old, while a few are very young or in their 20s.

Kellas said the owner of the property, Dean Ridgeway, had agreed to allow Campbell and Gouldart to keep their horses in his pastures in exchange for help with horse training.

Reached by phone Saturday, Campbell said her horses were starving because she also was trying to feed Ridgeway’s ponies, which she said were not being given hay.

Kellas said Ridgeway’s 30 to 50 ponies are in “very good condition” and well-fed.

Anyone who can provide food or other services can phone Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron at 360-417-2570.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 21. 2012 7:07PM
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