SHARPSBURG, Md. – Animal control authorities have seized a 35-acre farm, saying they found dozens of horses dead or dying from illness and maltreatment.
No charges had been filed against the owner of the farm, but authorities were treating the property as a crime scene, said Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society.
Authorities were sent on Saturday to investigate reports of a dead horse at Windrinker Farm, near the Antietam National Battlefield. They found more than 70 horses in various stages of poor health, plus the mostly skeletal remains of at least five other horses.
About 20 of the horses were sent to facilities throughout the region for further care, and one of them later died, said Miller, who also serves as a Howard County animal control officer.
Windrinker Farm owner Barbara P. Reinken, 61, denied mistreating the horses but conceded she had more than she could handle.
"The only thing I had wrong, I had too many horses, that's all," Reinken, a registered nurse, told The Associated Press Sunday.
Neighbors told the AP that dozens of horses at a time would sometimes get loose and graze in yards, fields and orchards. Bonnie Holmes said she called the Humane Society last month when as many as 30 horses got out.
"I'm so happy to see they're being taken out of here," Holmes said.
Miller said investigators found little feed on the farm except pasture and volunteers brought in bales of hay for the horses.