By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Investigators are looking into an alleged animal neglect case involving nearly a dozen horses on a Minnesota farm.

Animal humane agents had been investigating the farm since September.

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On Friday they stopped by and took 11 horses from the farm in North Branch. Those horses are now with Anoka Equine Veterinary Services and the University of Minnesota Equine Center.

“Felt that the animals would not make it if they didn’t correct the situation so we had no alternative but to remove them,” Keith Streff Humane Agent, Animal Humane Society.

A veterinarian who has been treating the animals at an equine center in Elk River said they have a host of issues from malnutrition, to lice, to dental problems.

“It’s hard to see these horses in the condition they’re in, it’s hard to see them having come out of a scenario where you knew that the people they were entrusting failed them,” Zach Loppnow said.

WCCO spoke to the horses’ owner over the phone.

“I am not starving horses out here I want to let you know that right now,” the owner said.

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She says she’s owned horses for decades and has never neglected or starved her animals.

The owner told WCCO that she was aware a horse appeared to be having health issues and had called into the vet about a feeding program. She said she was determining the next course of action and wasn’t warned that her horses were about to be taken away.

“You can’t feed a horse fast,” the owner said. “You can’t just put a bunch of grain in them or they’ll get sick.”

The owner, who has not been criminally charged, said she spends $750 on hay and $300 on grain a month.

“They were not starving. There was hay all the time in front of them,” the owner added.

The Animal Humane Society says there are nine more horses still under her ownership. They will be monitoring to ensure they do not fall to poor health.

The owner has 10 days to contest the citation to try to get her horses back. But ultimately, it’s up to a judge. If she loses, they’ll be in the custody of the Animal Humane Society.

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The findings of the investigation will be reviewed to determine if any charges will be filed in this case.

Kate Raddatz