Animal rescue group struggling to care for seized horses

ROCHESTER, Wash. -- A Friday seizure of 14 Thurston County horses has left a local animal rescue group with a huge expense.

It's not uncommon to hear about horses being seized, but few know just how expensive it can be to keep the animals in a safe locations.

That's what the people behind Hooved Animal Rescue are dealing with this week. Workers are now volunteering to take care of the 14 seized horses while the legal process proceeds.

Many of the horses are considered malnourished, and the main priority now is to feed them, according to Hooved Animal Rescue volunteers.

The Thurston County sheriff's office deputies had been monitoring the condition of the horses for several weeks, ever since a local resident called to express concern about the animals.

"We're able to document, 'Yes these horses did appear to be in very poor health,'" said Lt. Greg Elwin.

The county doesn't have any way to take care of the horses over the long term, so they call volunteer groups to help out.

"It tugs at your heart. Animals are helpless. They depend on us for all of their care," said Kathy Baily of Hooved Animal Rescue.

But that care can cost $10,000 for the first month alone, and cases where the owner contests the seizure can drag on for a year or more.

That's what very well might happen with Friday's seizure.

"I'm going to try my darndest to get those horses back," said Kenneth Herschler, who owns the horses.

Herschler said he has plenty of hay on his property and thinks the seizure was a big misunderstanding.

"I take the best care I possibly can of my horses," he said. "There was never a day that went by where I didn't have somebody feeding them animals."

Elwin said a lengthy court battle is all the more reason why the volunteer groups are important.

"So we could not do this without the assistance of the volunteers who help us out," he said.

Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County depends on volunteers to house the horses and donations to help pay for their long-term feed and care.

Anyone who would like to contact the group can do so here.