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Dead horse still reeking havoc with South Kitsap neighbors

Neighbors of a 60-year-old South Kitsap woman, who was arrested Wednesday night for first degree animal cruelty, are still plagued by the smell of death due to a dead horse that still has not been removed from her property.

The woman, Roni Gail Myers, was arrested and released on personal recognizance after neighbors called 911 because of an “awful smell” they noticed coming from her residence on the 6800 block of Phillips Road SE last Sunday night.

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies responded to reports of the odor as possibly from a dead animal or human.

“I was afraid it could be the woman living there that was maybe dead, so I called 911” said Steve Prinz, Myers neighbor. According to Prinz, the smell gradually became worse as the week progressed.

Upon arrival, deputies contacted the neighbors in order to locate the area where the smell was emanating from. They pointed to a shed that was on the neighboring property which took deputies by surprise as it appeared to be way too small for three horses and dogs. They also noted the shed was all metal, had no visible ventilation and only two doors, a roll up garage door and a pedestrian access door.

According to (KCSO) reports, the smell was incredibly bad and deputies required ventilation masks to enter and check the welfare of the animals. 

After checking for the owner of the property and getting no response, deputies made a forced entry through the pedestrian door of the shed. They also reported that the heat from inside the shed was intense and completely dark.

Officers opened the roll up door and noted that the area where the animals were living was deplorable. The floor was covered in feces, the dogs were in cages on straw without food and water.

There were two horses standing in a pen and a deceased horse next to them in its own pen. A white powder substance that was determined to be lime covered the deceased horse which appeared to have been down for over two to three weeks as it was decaying.

“That shed has no windows,” said Prinz “and we haven’t seen or heard any animals over there in the last two years. Those animals haven’t seen daylight in I don’t know how long and they are all covered with feces.”

Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) Animal Control Officers arrived and began their investigation, photographing and collecting the dogs. Deputies were advised that the hooves of one of the horses had curled under from lack of care. The dogs were brought out and all were emaciated and had matted fur with feces attached to them.

Neighbors told authorities the animals have been inside the shed for about two years. They also said that Myers was told that she could no longer have any horses or similar animals because of a similar issue with animal cruelty.

Deputies contacted Myers at a home on the 4000 block of Long Lake Road where they asked if she was aware of the condition of her horses and dogs on Phillips Road. Myers told them she was and said that she had no money to take care of them. She also told them she didn’t want to give them up and has been keeping them inside the shed for about a year and a half as far as she could remember.

Myers was asked if she was aware that a horse was dead and explained that the horse was old and after she couldn’t keep it on its feet anymore, she knew it would die. When asked why she hadn’t contacted animal control for assistance, she said it was lack of money.

She also said she would feed the animals when she had food for them and was aware that there was no ventilation for the animals.

Myers told deputies she had the horses there because she was no longer allowed to have horses at the Long Lake Road address anymore. They asked Myers if she was ever told she could no longer ever have animals similar to horses in Kitsap County in which she said she may have been told this but was unsure.

“This is the worst thing I have ever seen,” said Prinze. “There was a foot and a half of feces in that shed. When KHS came to get the animals, one of the dogs couldn’t even walk, it was crawling on its belly.”

Prinze also said that in order to mask the smell, Myers pored lime all over the horse and bleach around the shed.

“We haven’t seen her around in a couple of days and we have been trying to get someone to pick up this dead horse because the smell is terrible.”

KHS responded to retrieve the animals which were in serious condition of neglect.

“The horses have deformed hooves, rain rot and some form of bacteria that has left abscesses,” said KHS Chief Jon Teer. “There are blisters underneath their hooves and their tails are matted. We can’t at this time remove the crusty substance from their coats as it will take their skin off.

“We are going to have to use a mild detergent to clean them and see if some of it will break up and come off. We will have to sedate the brown one in order to treat its hooves as the horse is nervous.”

The animals that were living were removed, but the dead horse still remains on the property.

According to the KHS ordinance, they cannot lawfully enter a person’s private property to even retrieve a live animal. The reason that KHS was able to enter the property on this occasion and collect the live animals is due to a request from KCSO.

“We can’t just come out and pick up a dead animal off of someone’s personal property,” said Teer. “Our ordinance only calls for live animals, the dead horse is a health department issue now.”

A search of Kitsap County Health Department records shows that a dead animal, if not disposed of by the property owner correctly or is causing a nuisance, will be dealt with by a Kitsap County Health Officer under their administration and enforcement section.

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