Reports of four dead horses on a south Deschutes County property were confirmed during a raid Thursday that brought the arrest of a 37-year-old man on animal neglect and abuse charges, sheriff’s deputies said Friday.
The sheriff’s office began an investigation Wednesday after receiving several reports of four dead horses on the property of Edward Leigh Owens, deputies said, declining to specify the location.
There also were concerns reported about three dogs and a cat in Owens’ care and custody, they added.
The sheriff’s office executed a search warrant Thursday, deputies said, adding that Owens returned home shortly after the raid began.
Four dead horses found on the property were removed after the scene was processed by investigators, deputies said. Three neglected dogs and a cat were removed as well.
Owens was lodged in the county jail in Bend on four counts each of first-degree animal neglect and abuse, Class A misdemeanors, and two counts of second-degree animal neglect, a Class B misdemeanor. He remained jailed Friday on $45,000 bail.
“These are the maximum charges allowed under Oregon law,” the deputies’ news release said.
Deputies said there had been no prior complaints recorded involving Owens’ horses or animals in his care on the heavily wooded five-acre parcel, where the horses were kept behind the house, not easily visible to passers-by. Adjacent properties are of similar size, they said.
The deceased horses were three mares and a gelding of various breeds and ages, deputies said. One horse apparently had died a month to 45 days ago, the others more recently.
A veterinarian accompanied deputies in their raid, helping document signs of apparent emaciation. There was a bale of bluegrass hay on site, but deputies said that does not provide the nutritional standards for underweight horses to gain weight.
Felony charges of aggravated animal abuse are only possible if there are prior convictions, if the abuse occurs in front of a minor child or, under a new law that took effect Jan. 1, if it involves 10 or more animals, deputies said, adding that a search of the property found no evidence of other deceased animals.