On April 10, 2012, five horses seized from owners Ron Swift and Randall Hatlee in Park County, Colorado suffering from extreme malnutrition and neglect were ordered returned to Swift and Hatlee by order of Fairplay-based County Court Judge Brian Green, despite the fact that the investigation is ongoing and trial is not scheduled until May, 2012. Hatlee and Swift, of Bailey, CO, are each charged with three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Six horses were seized in March, 2012. During the seizure, one of the horses died. A necropsy determined the cause of death was a bacterial abscess near the horse’s heart, the sheriff's office said Thursday. "However, we feel that the owners of the horses should have contacted a qualified veterinarian much earlier than they did," Undersheriff Monte Gore said. Gore said the animals were doing much better since they were seized. “It seems like all the vets pretty much have concluded that they primarily needed some water and food,” he said.
Veterinarian Amy Murdock reported "lots of horses that were underfed, poor conditions, not much food or water, if any, and several downed horses." Murdock said one of the horses had several open wounds and wasn't able to get up. "It can't switch sides or get comfortable and it's urinating and defecating on itself," Murdock said. "We actually had to physically lift him to help him stand. He can't get up on his own yet," Murdock said.
She said he was devouring the food and water that vets were providing to him. "I don't think he has stopped since we put it in front of him," Murdock said.
During the April 10 hearing, Judge Green found no probable cause to allow the seizure of the horses, but did find probable cause for the misdemeanor animal cruelty charges filed against Swift and Hatlee.
Tell Judge Green these horses do not deserve to return to the men who withheld food and water from them!
Tell Deputy District Attorney Steve Sullivan to push for vigorous prosecution by taking all evidence, past behavior and witnesses into consideration as his job duty requires of him!