DUNN COUNTY, Wis. - A 75-year old woman could be facing serious animal neglect charges after a number of her horses died, and others were found emaciated.
The horses are located on a farm outside of Menomonie in the Sheridan Township.
Over the last several weeks, neighbor Diane Thompson has watched the health of about two dozen horses steadily decline.
"They were nothing but skin and bones. They're heads were hanging to the ground," said Thompson
"It was horrific. Watching them, they were flailing, their legs trying to get up."
After she says she witnessed two die in front of her, she called the Dunn County Sheriff's Department.
"Some of them looked terrible, their ribs were showing and so forth," said Dunn County Sheriff Dennis Smith.
Smith believes at least four horses have died so far.
"Some of the horses were old, some of them had so many parasites. Just a bad combination of a lot of things," he said.
He plans to take the case to the district attorney for charges, since according to court records; the woman has been convicted of misdemeanor animal neglect before.
Smith has taken control of the horses after getting a court order. He says the owner was uncooperative.
Others wonder why it got to this point.
"Someone should have stepped up and said you need to do something," said Thompson.
The woman's daughter says her mother loves the horses but it got to be too much for her to handle.
"Everyone has tried and she never would accept the help," said Stacy Hoehn. "She's getting older now. It's just not as easy for her. And I think she thought she could do everything she used to do."
The sheriff says the woman's son has taken some of the horses, others have been moved to an animal refuge, with the hope all of them finally get the attention they deserve.
"I'm just glad they're going to be taken out of here. Because no animal deserves to suffer," said Thompson.
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)