Four horses, five ponies and three goats suffering from various levels of emaciation were removed from a property in Severn this week, according to the Anne Arundel County Police Department.
Animal Control officials have been investigating the property since January, when they received an anonymous complaint about a dead horse on the property, said Robin Small, Animal Control administrator. At that time, one dead horse and two dead baby goats were removed, and three ponies were turned over to a rescue organization, police said.
Police said the owner of the property in the 500 block of Upton Road had been ordered to get medical care for the animals, clear debris, mend fences, fix sanitation issues and provide shelter. While subsequent visits initially showed improvements, police said, conditions deteriorated.
An independent veterinarian documented the need to remove the animals on Monday, and the animals were removed Tuesday.
"They were seeing some improvement, but at a certain point there was a regression in the conditions," said Justin Mulcahy, a police spokesman.
Mulcahy would not release the identity of the property owner or the owners of the animals, citing an ongoing investigation. Investigators are still trying to identify the owners of all of the animals, some of which were apparently boarded on the property, he said. No charges have been filed.
The police released photos of a dark-colored horse with its ribs and hip bones visible, as well as containers holding discolored water.
"The animals were not being provided clean, palatable water, and the animals range in weight from moderately thin to emaciated," Small said.
The horses and ponies were taken to the nonprofit Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine. The goats are being cared for at Anne Arundel County Animal Control in Millersville for now.
Erin Ochoa, assistant executive director of Days End, said the horses and ponies are being evaluated. They'll create nutrition plans to rehydrate and renourish the animals.
"They've got great temperaments, so that's always a plus," Ochoa said. "They appreciate being in a clean, warm stall with consistent food and water coming to them."
Days End, which relies largely on donations, will care for the horses and ponies until all investigations and court cases are resolved, Ochoa said.