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Neighbor relieved after neglected horses seized

When Kathy Collier and her husband finally moved into their new home in Burley last September, it was like a dream come true.

“It’s just the most perfect piece of property you could ever have,” Collier said, pointing to the grove of trees that line the north side of her lot, which also has several acres for her pride and joy — her four quarterhorses — to roam.

Unfortunately, Collier soon found out that her home may have been a dream, but one of her neighbors wasn’t. Just down the street lived a man with seven horses — horses who were continually running loose and wreaking havoc on her property and her animals.

“Thirty times between September and December they were over here,” Collier said, explaining that the animals constantly broke through her gates and fences, often fighting with her horses. Three months ago, she said one of her horses had to be euthanized after he was injured during a particularly nasty fight with the loose animals.

“They would just crash through my gate,” she said, explaining that she put up thousands of feet of new barriers around her property, but nothing — not even barbed wire — seemed to stop them.

“They ran right through it,” she said, explaining that the horses were desperate for water and food, having only muddy puddles to drink from and moldy hay to eat.

Their owner, she said, was hardly ever at home.

“He’d come by, just toss out one bale of hay on the ground, then leave. One bale — for eight horses,” she said, explaining that she feeds one bale a day to half that many animals.

Collier said no matter how many times she talked to the horses’ owner, he refused to collect them or keep them fenced in. More than once, she said, she found the gate to his pasture wide open.

She called the Kitsap County Humane Society numerous times over the past few months to complain about the horses being loose, and she said they made countless visits to the home.

Kitsap County Animal Control Supervisor Rance Mcentyre said the owner of the horses had been “under investigation for some time,” but his officers had not gathered enough evidence for an arrest warrant.

That changed on Dec. 30, when Collier said two of the horses broke her fence again, after being out for five days straight. She caught them, then called 911 after unsuccessful attempts to reach Animal Control.

According to the incident report, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy and Animal Control officers responded to Collier’s house. The two loose horses were loaded onto a trailer, then the deputy checked her neighbor’s property, finding five more horses in a dilapidated paddock and shelter that “appeared unsuitable and unsafe for livestock and horses.”

Along with broken edges that could injure the animals, the deputy noted that the only food available for the animals was moldy hay, and the water trough was full of algae and mud. There was also no bedding or dry area for the horses.

Mcentyre said the two horses Collier caught were impounded that day, then five days later on Jan. 4, his officers returned with a warrant and the remaining animals were impounded.

“They were living in deplorable conditions,” he said, explaining that the owner has been charged with second-degree animal cruelty, and he expected him to be arraigned next week.

As for the animals, Mcentyre said all but one of the horses — which now number eight, since one of the mares gave birth two weeks ago — had been adopted as of Thursday. Once the buyers’ homes are inspected, he said, the animals will be moved to their new homes.

Mcentyre said the owner had 15 days since being served the warrant to post the bond for his horses, but did not retrieve them.

Collier said she’s glad that the horse have been impounded, but she wishes it had happened sooner.

She wishes the horses were taken away before they injured Kamberon, by far her favorite horse.

“He was truly exceptional,” she said, explaining that she had raised the registered quarter horse from when he was a colt, nurturing him to be extra gentle so kids and elderly people could ride him easily.

At 11 years old, she said the horse was in the “prime of his life” last year, performing like a champ during their weekend endurance rides to Port Gamble and Camp Union.

Last summer, however, she said Kamberon fought off one of her neighbor’s horses, a “one-eyed stallion” who was trying to mate with her mare. Kamberon injured his leg that day, but she treated him and he was improving.

Until November, she said, when the same stallion and another horse broke into her property again, aggravating her horse’s injury.

After spending more than $2,000 in vet visits for the gelding since June, Collier said she was forced to put Kamberon down.

“It’s like I lost my best friend,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get past this. I don’t know if I’ll ever see justice.”

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