Mercer Co. Sheriff investigating possible animal neglect case at thoroughbred farm

Published: Jun. 2, 2016 at 10:46 PM EDT
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The Mercer County Sheriff says his office is investigating a possible case of animal cruelty. He says some thoroughbreds recently brought to a farm may have been neglected.

Sheriff Ernie Kelty says either he or one of his deputies has gone out to the farm on Martin Lane to check on the horses every day since they found about them earlier this week.

"Animals can't take care of themselves," Sheriff Kelty said. "They have to be taken care of. That's why we have to make sure it gets done."

Kelty says the horses are being taken care of now that they are at the farm on Martin Lane. Investigators are trying to figure out where they were before that, and why someone there was not taking care of them.

"There are horses out there that we took photographs of that I'm not going to say are in immediate danger, but I'm not an expert," Kelty said. "But there's horses out there definitely in need of care."

Kelty says 40 horses are on the property, although some are not involved in the investigation, he said. He was unable to provide a number that might be involved.

He says they believe the thoroughbred horses have been at the farm for two to three weeks, and the man who is leasing the farm has hired two people to take care of the horses there.

Sheriff Kelty said the man leasing the farm is cooperating with the investigation. WKYT has chosen not to release the man's name because he has not been charged.

Sheriff Kelty said he is working with a state agriculture official about the possible neglect of the horses. He met with that official on Thursday afternoon.

He says the state is getting involved partly because of the sheer number of horses, and partly because where the horses came from may end up being outside Mercer County, and therefore outside his office's jurisdiction.

Regardless of who leads the investigation, Sheriff Kelty said the important thing is that the horses are now being taken care of, and he says investigators will get to the bottom of all this.

"This definitely is serious to us," he said. "We've let everybody that's involved know that this is very serious to us and that we're going to do anything and everything we can to gather all the facts and make sure those horses are taken care of."

Kelty said the investigation is ongoing as they try to track down who was responsible for taking care of the horses.

One neighbor told WKYT's Garrett Wymer that this was the first he had heard of the investigation, but that he saw a couple trucks with trailers pull into the farm a couple of weeks ago. But, he added, that is not out of the ordinary around there.