EAST BETHEL, Minn. (WCCO) — Only two malnourished horses were taken from an East Bethel farm on Monday afternoon, but more might be taken as early as Tuesday, investigators said.
Animals rights activists and local horse owners showed up at N.V. Arabian Ranch on the northern edge of the Twin Cities, demanding something be done for the 64 horses on the farm that are owned by Lowell Friday.
“He needs to be held accountable for the way he treats these animals,” said Sharon Riley who used to work for Friday on the farm.
Riley helped take a couple hundred pictures of what she considers to be malnourished horses that are sick. She finds the pictures, which show some horses with visible sores, disturbing.
Investigators from the Animal Humane Society, along with two veterinarians, searched the farm and examined the animals.
“Yes, there are some that are thin and underweight,” said Jeff Johnson, a veterinarian from Chisago County.
Johnson and the Humane Society investigators were let onto the property voluntarily by Friday. They did not have a search warrant, but said Friday let them examine the animals and search both his properties in Anoka County.
Investigators said they found two horses that were very thin and needed immediate medical attention.
Friday defended how he cared for the horses, pointing to veterinarian examinations just this summer.
“So we’re talking in the last month these horses were OK. Now all of a sudden, I got a problem. That’s hard to believe, wouldn’t you say,” he said. “You’ll see they got good, shiny coats, and they’re in well, good shape.”
Investigators could legally only take the two malnourished horses off the property. They’re being cared for at the University of Minnesota, and veterinarians said they had to take them off the property in order to have any chance at saving them.
“We have to be able to demonstrate and articulate that a crime is occurring and convince a judge these animals need to be removed. We’re going to use every resource to see if we can do that tomorrow,” said Keith Streff, a Humane Society officer.
Another eight horses might soon be taken from the farm in East Bethel, ending a long fight for animal rights activists as well as the misery that Riley and her colleagues say the horses are living through each day.
“I hope everybody will join the fight to get others taken from him,” Riley said. “He needs to be shutdown.”