MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A horse owner in far southern Minnesota is facing multiple charges of neglect after as many as 15 of her animals were found dead at a farm near Worthington in late March, according to charges filed Wednesday in Nobles County Court.
Joan Mary Moore, 55 of Reading, Minn., has been charged with 20 counts of animal neglect in connection with the case.
According to the charges, the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous report of dead horses on a farm on the 26000 block of 210th Street on March 25. Officers saw nothing out of the ordinary that day, but came back the next day to investigate further.
An officer drove into a plowed corn field east of the residence, where several dead horses could be seen lying in a poorly fenced are just north of a fenced-in area where the horses live. The officer counted four dead horses, at least one of which was reduced to its skeleton. Another horse has been scavenged by animals, the complaint states.
They appeared to be two smaller horses along with two other fully-grown horses.
According to the complaint, the officer found four more dead horses inside a smaller fenced-in area. There was no access to food or water where the horses were found.
The officer tracked down Moore at her workplace and she acknowledged the dead horses, saying she didn’t sell the horses before their health deteriorated because she didn’t want them to be “put down.” When the officer asked Moore about the living conditions of the horses at the property, she told the officer they wouldn’t be happy, the complaint states.
Moore told officers she was no longer receiving social security for her daughter and that her hours at her job had been cut, so she didn’t have the money to provide hay for the horses. The animals died because they didn’t have enough to eat. She said one horse died last November and the others in December, the complaint states.
She told authorities she likes horses but got in over her head.
According to the complaint, officers went back out to the property with a veterinarian looking for horses both dead and alive. They found a total of 15 dead horses and nine others that were still alive. Some of the dead horses had been reduced to their skeletons and in various states of decay. The veterinarian said the horses had died well before winter started.
The doctor said 10 of the horses had likely died during sub-freezing temperatures and that others had suffered from some form of malnutrition.
If convicted on all charges, each carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.