Sheriff’s deputies in Burke County seized a dozen horses from a farm south of Morganton Monday.
Deputies led one horse after another onto trailers at the farm. The animals are now under a veterinarian’s care after deputies claim they didn't have enough food and water.
“There was concern the horses were just not adequately cared for and that they could literally starve to death,” Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said.
According to the warrant, deputies described seeing the horses on a previous visit underweight with their ribs showing. They said the hay had mold on it and there wasn't any grass in the pasture for them to eat. Deputies said one of the horses had a serious skin disorder, and the hair was falling out of another.
Owner Bobby Reep said she spends hundreds of dollars every month feeding the animals.
“They are not neglected,” she said. “They are not abused. They are not beat. They are not starved.”
Reep said many of the animals have been rescued and arrived at the farm in bad shape.
“Lot of times they are skin and bones,” she said. “We take care of them. We get the vet down here. We get them looking better.”
As news of the seizure spread south of Morganton, family members and friends came to Reep's defense.
“They're part of the family and I can't believe every one of them is being taken away from us,” family member Teresa Saulman said.
The horses were taken to an undisclosed location, where they will be checked out by a vet. It will be up to a judge to decide what happens to them next.