2 horses found dead and 10 seized in El Paso County animal cruelty case

Photo courtesy: El Paso County Sheriff's Office

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is investigating an alleged case of animal cruelty after finding two dead horses and 10 emaciated horses on a property.

The sheriff's office was contacted on Sunday at about 2:30 p.m. by someone tipping them off about an animal neglect case in the 2300 block of Slocum Road. The neighborhood is to the east of Colorado Springs and west of Ellicott.

11 News spoke to Denise Kuremsky who called deputies that day. She and her husband were riding their horses in their neighbor's indoor arena. That neighbor reportedly kept horses in that area.

Kuremsky explained the moment the grisly discovery was made, "My husband was just walking and he approached me and said, 'There's a dead horse in the stall,' and I was like, 'Nuh-uh. Maybe it got hurt, maybe it got sick,' and I go, 'How'd the other horses look?' and he goes, 'Skinny!'"

She remembers finding an American Paint Horse in a corner.

"[It] was just skin and bones and it stood there with its head down in the corner and just look so defeated ... It was terrible, terrible, absolutely terrible. I've seen horses skinny before and I've been around horses all my life. I've seen skinny horses because of age or sickness but never because of sheer neglect," said Kuremsky.

On Monday, authorities alongside the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center executed a search warrant at the property. The owner of the horses was contacted and 10 horses were found in "various stages of emaciation." Two dead horses were found inside the stalls of a large barn.

All the living horses were seized and taken to a boarding facility.

As of Monday night, the owner of the horses had not been publicly identified by authorities since no charges have been filed.

Investigators say they are waiting on test results from the dead horses to see what type of charges they may be able to file.

"We can't press charges, we got to have probable cause and we've got to make sure what we have will stand up in court," said Jackie Kirby with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

A woman who used to work on the property where the horses were seized told 11 News she called a deputy out when she started getting concerned about the horses last year.

"I called a sheriff out here and he said the horses were a 3 on the Henneke Scale and he couldn't do anything," the woman said. She asked not to be named.

The Henneke Scale is a scoring system to determine the health of a horse. A rating of 1 would be consistent with an emaciated horse, a rating of 5 is ideal weight and a rating of 9 means a horse is extremely fat.

"It sucks, I wish this happened a lot sooner so that we could have saved them," the former employee said.

The sheriff's office is looking into how many times they responded to that property. 11 News will update this article as more information becomes available.