NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office is investigating a property owner in the Lilbert area who a neighbor says is neglecting his horses.
The neighbor took pictures of the horses, which show them to be malnourished, with their ribcages and spines clearly visible.
Sheriff Thomas Kerss said his department is investigating the incident and has given the man a week to find better homes for the horses. Kerss said he owns between 35 and 40 horses.
The owner has since moved some of the horses. Kerss said some of the horses are in better shape than others.
Kerss also said investigators may turn the evidence over to the district attorney's office.
A neighbor, who doesn't want her identity revealed, says she rarely saw the animals fed.
"They would come up to my fence when I fed my horses and whinny," she said.
Then one day a stallion tried to cross the fence to her mares. He got caught in the wire and was injured, seriously.
"I watched him dramatically change from a healthy fat happy horse to an extreme skin and bones," she said.
A sheriff's deputy provided a stern warning. The horse was euthanized. Authorities say the owner has no past history of animal neglect, has experience with livestock and made a reasonable attempt to feed and water the animals. The owner is being given time to reduce his herd or find a way to care for the animals properly.
Phone messages were left for the owner, but they haven't been returned.
According to investigators with the East Texas Horse Rescue Organization, the horses in the poorest condition could die. The organization is offering foster care.
"Some had life-threatening conditions," said Lori Bowlin, the organization's president. "There was a variety of all kinds of conditions. We are certain the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Department will monitor the situation."