ENUMCLAW, Wash. – A woman has been charged with first-degree animal cruelty after authorities allegedly found dozens of malnourished and neglected farm animals under her care.
The investigation into Karen Elizabeth Thomas, 46, began last November. Probable cause documents say King County Animal Care and Control officers went to investigate nine emaciated horses, one dead horse, a dead sheep and ten dead chickens on her property. The emaciated horses were euthanized and all the dead animals were removed.
Prosecutors say animal control officers determined that seven horses, cattle, goats, sheep and llama were that were still on the property were in satisfactory condition.
On Jan 19, a neighbor called animal control to report a dead llama and a dead sheep on Thomas' property. When officers arrived, they allegedly found two more dead sheep, a dead newborn goat and a living newborn goat. They also found a female goat with, what appeared to be, afterbirth still hanging from her.
Prosecutors say officers also found four horses and cattle in a pasture, deep in animal waste, mud and water. There was no sign of feed for the animals and the water troughs were empty. The few bales of hay on the property were moldy.
The next day, the animals were removed by a court order.
The four horses were examined and determined to be very thin, according to court records. All of them allegedly had lice and a fungal condition called rain rot that causes skin blisters, hair loss and discomfort. They also had low body temperatures. Two of the horses had heart murmurs and two had eye discharges. Another examination found the four horses suffered from improper hoof care.
Necropsies on the dead animals determined that they had less than normal body fat, likely due to inadequate feeding, say prosecutors.
Thomas, who told officers she has a degree in equine nutrition, allegedly said she fed her animals "One and a half to two bales twice a day – for them all." The doctor who performed the necropsies said that is about half of what they should have been fed.