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Jaime Taft says this photo of a dead horse, being nudged by another horse, was taken at the E Lowell-Larimer Rd property in January 2012.

Snohomish County residents complain officials do nothing to stop horse abuse

On E Lowell-Larimer Road, out in the country in Snohomish, there is a private pasture filled with horses. And for years locals have noticed that some of the horses are bone thin. Concerned citizen and former horse rescuer Jaime Taft has been contacted by many of them.

"It came to my attention that the horses had been reported by lots of people, over many years, and that animals had died on that property."

The property belongs to Phil Roeder. His neighbor, who doesn't want to be named, says the horse abuse has been going on for a long time.

"There is one woman who has pictures of dead horses, on his property, that have starved to death. He just goes and digs a hole and buries them, which is illegal in this country. But he doesn't care! He doesn't have to listen to anyone. And Snohomish County isn't making him do anything."

But she says Snohomish County is aware of the situation.

"He let me read through all his paperwork, which is this freaking thick. It's an inch thick. There are probably 80-90 pages of complaints from Snohomish county."

But Jaime says Snohomish County animal Control never does anything about it and she is beyond frustrated.

"I have enough evidence to show that Snohomish County is just not interested in doing their job. I think there's a real problem when you can have pages of cruelty reports, and yet they haven't done any action other than go out there a couple of times and tell him he needs to feed his horses better. I've been involved in rescue long enough to know that this is first degree animal cruelty when you allow an animal to starve to death. They absolutely have all the evidence that they need to take action and they're just choosing not to."

Now, Snohomish County did take action a couple weeks ago. Auditor Carolyn Weikel oversees the Animal control department.

"We went out to the location to review the progress of the animals and one of the horses was not progressing as we had expected. Therefore we obtained a second warrant to seize the horse."

But for Jaime, that wasn't enough. She says it's not just this case, there are many reports of abused horses in the county that are being ignored.

Kim Koon is an animal cruelty investigator with Pasado Safe Haven. Her group has offered to partner with Snohomish County, but they have declined.

"I've been doing this job for five years and it's always been a complete road block with Snohomish County. In the end, the animal does not get help. This one gelding was seized, but the problem is not being dealt with.The man still has the horses and the other animals are in danger of other issues because of the lack of care."

Kim can't understand why Snohomish won't partner with them, like other counties do.

"They have always claimed, for years, they have no resources yet we continue to offer ours to them. They can be heroes in these situations if they just partner up. We are very careful, we're educated. There's nothing that we are going to do to hinder their crime scene or hinder their case in any way."

Auditor Weikel disagrees.

"She's certainly entitled to her opinion. We have had a veterinarian out there to ensure, for us, that we're doing what needs to be done. The horses are making progress. Would we like to see faster progress? Yes. But they are making progress. So I think we are doing the job that we are required to do."

The horses' owner Phil Roeder also defends himself.

"I've had 50,000 horses in my life and I'd like to debate anybody that wants to tell me how to feed horses. These horses have hay in front of them 365 days a year. I can't please everybody who comes by who don't know anything about feeding horses."

This is an open investigation, so the county say much about it, but Jaime and Kim encourage people in Snohomish County to continue to report any animal abuse they see.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Sundays at 3pm).
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