Rescued Skagit Co. horses have long road to recovery

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- As police continue their investigation into 26 abused horses found earlier this month in Skagit County, volunteers say the animals have a long road to recovery.

Sadly, one of the horses was in such poor shape that it died after the rescue, and now a number of volunteers are slowly nursing the surviving horses back to health,.

One of the horses, named Po, was dangerously thin with patches of missing hair when he was rescued. Another horse, a mare named Dream, had overgrown, fungus infected hooves.

Volunteer Shane Westman said he had never seen horses in worse shape. He believes they were likely left to stand in the mud and rain most of the time.

"I'm seeing a fair amount of bruising and trauma, which probably means that the bone is starting to demineralize," he said. "So it's an ongoing process. It can never be repaired."

In order to bring the horses back to health, it will likely take as long as nine months and cost as much as $150,000.

A 5-year-old Mare named Fancy had such a terrible case of worms that she had to be put down, which brought the volunteers to tears.

"I know that she was in a lot of pain," said Gretchen Salstro. "And I know that even if she had pulled through, her intestines were so far gone, that she would've had complications throughout the rest of her life."

While one horse couldn't be saved, volunteers are hopeful they can nurse the remaining 25 back to health.

Police say the owners of the horses didn't live on the farm where they were seized, and they could eventually be charged with animal cruelty.

In the meantime, the owners have petitioned to get the horses back.