By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
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The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said the horses were facing varying degrees of starvation and malnutrition and were estimated to be underweight by between 50 and 200 pounds each.
The horses, which include three pregnant mares and a stallion, have been under the care of the Sheriff’s Office since Thursday but have not been removed from their pastures off Olson Road southwest of Sequim.
The horses now have access to hay 24 hours a day, the Sheriff’s Office said.
A veterinarian gave two horses a 50 percent chance of survival, the Sheriff’s Office said, adding that one of them was placed on antibiotics for infected wounds.
The owners of the horses, Buffy Campbell and Heather Gouldart, have not been arrested.
Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said they claimed that they had rescued the animals.
But Peregrin said the horses’ health had deteriorated in their care and that the animals were not being properly fed.
“The evidence is they were not being taken care of properly,” he said.
Tracey Kellas, Clallam County animal control officer, said the owner of the property, Dean Ridgeway, had agreed to allow Campbell, 41, and Gouldart, 19, to keep their horses in his pastures in exchange for help with horse training.
Kellas said it remained the responsibility of Campbell and her daughter, who live on the property in a travel trailer, to feed and care for their own horses.
Reached by phone, Campbell said her horses were starving because she also was trying to feed Ridgeway’s ponies, which she said were not being given hay.
Kellas said Ridgeway has 30 to 50 ponies but described them as being in “very good condition” and well-fed.
Campbell and Gouldart together once ran Forgotten Horse Ranch in Port Orchard.
Campbell said she still operates under that name, but Kellas said it’s unclear if it is a licensed rescue center.
Kellas said Campbell has declined to be interviewed by authorities.
The case has been forwarded to the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which will consider filing charges.
Kellas said the Sheriff’s Office is covering the cost of the horses’ care for now.
She said the owners have 15 days to reclaim the horses through court.
If that request is denied or not made, the horses will be placed with new owners, possibly a licensed rescue center, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking for help in caring for the horses.
Anyone who can provide food or other services can phone Chief Criminal Deputy Ron Cameron at 360-417-2570.
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.