Snohomish County horse owner cited for for cruelty, neglect

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. -- Complaints of underfed horses suffering from fungal infections led Animal Control officers to a Snohomish County horse owner's farm.

Lifelong horse trader Phil Roeder admits his quarter horse and thoroughbred are underweight, but insists they are healthy.

"There's no skinny horses dying out there," he said.

Roeder also said he's already put a plan in place to help the underweight horses.

"That's why I put her in here -- she needs a little extra," he said. "She's never been sick , none of these horses are sick."

The ribs on both horses are visible, and the thoroughbred's hip bones are also visible.

Horse owner Jamie Taft said Roeder may have a lot of experience owning horses, but not in caring for them. Taft is one of 22 people who have complained to Snohomish County Animal Control about Roeder's horses.

"Something needs to be done to rectify this, because it's been going on for years," Taft said.

Animal Control officers and a vet recently checked each animal. They found fungal infections, a lack of hoof care in all 13 horses and lack of quality food. The officers cited Roeder for cruelty and neglect and told him to make corrections.

"I feed them what's economical. It keeps them healthy so I can make a break even or little on them," Roeder said.

The majority of Roeder's horses look healthy, including two newborns. Roeder said all retired thoroughbreds are picky eaters, and after a winter of eating hay, most horses turn their noses up at it and opt for spring grass.

Roeder moved the underweight horses to a new pasture filled with tall grass and has added alfalfa to their diets.

He insists he would have made all the changes without being told, which is why he plans to appeal the violation orders.

Roeder has 15 days from the violation orders to file his appeal. In the meantime, Animal Control officers say if he doesn't make the corrections they will forward their findings to the prosecutor to consider charges.