27 animals seized from a Fort Collins rescue ranch
FORT COLLINS – Authorities seized 27 animals from the Animal Angels Horse Rescue ranch on Saturday after complaints that horses kept there were underfed.The owner faces multiple charges of animal cruelty, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said.Officials seized 16 horses, ponies and donkeys; five llamas; five pygmy goats; and one potbelly pig.Sheriff’s investigators got a warrant to remove the animals after inspecting them earlier in the week. Veterinarians from Colorado State University and an official from the county Humane Society participated in the inspection.Forty-six animals remain at the ranch, although more animals could be confiscated if they are not receiving adequate care, Alderden said. He said many animals at the ranch appeared malnourished, didn’t have an adequate food supply or shelter, and water troughs were frozen.Ranch owner Alesha Matchett insisted that she, her 9-year-old son and almost 20 volunteers were able to handle caring for the animals.She said she had receipts showing the purchase and delivery of $800 worth of hay roughly every two weeks. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve worked for. There’s not one (animal) who’s been mistreated,” she said Saturday.Matchett has said the horses at the ranch were not neglected but many had medical conditions. She said she rescues horses that are headed for slaughter.Alderden said Saturday that it appeared Matchett had good intentions but that taking care of so many animals takes money and manpower.Summer Lyndsey, who resigned as animal control officer in October, said she and current officer Jessie Pollachek began checking on Matchett in May after receiving complaints and saw animals’ wounds wrapped in duct tape.”The owner had a habit of duct-taping lacerations, and we’d ask her to remove it because that’s not an accepted method of wound care,” Lyndsey said. “She did her own vet care, but she didn’t know how to properly treat the animals.”Margaret DeSarno, a volunteer at another horse rescue operation, said she took three badly emaciated horses from Animal Angels to a third operation, Colorado Horse Rescue in Longmont.Veterinarian Stacy Bluhm said the three horses were the thinnest she had seen come into Colorado Horse Rescue. She said she couldn’t find a physical reason they were so underweight.Hildy Armour, executive director of Colorado Horse Rescue, said the horses are improving.”They’re relaxing a bit,” she said. “They’re perking up.”
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