Twenty-six sickly horses seized from a Mt. Vernon pasture this month are being nursed back to health in Arlington.

Owners of the horses filed a request to get the animals back on Thursday. The request comes one day before a 15-day hold would have expired and horses could have been legally confiscated.

Vets diagnosed a variety of ailments when the horses were seized on May 2, including malnourishment, lice, rain rot, mud fever and open sores. The horses are being treated at a 10-acre rescue facility for the non-profit group People Helping Horses.

This is the first time in 10 years an owner has petitioned to get the horses back, said Gretchen Salstrom, founder of People Helping Horses.

Skagit County Sheriff's deputies investigated the condition of the horses earlier this month following a tip. Animal control and People Helping Horses' staff assisted in removing them from the property.

Since then, a 5-year-old mare named Fancy was euthanized due to her deteriorating condition. At least three mares are believed to be pregnant.

She was just desperately weak, says Teryn Cothern, Director of Operations, who says the horse went down and couldn't get back up on her own. She had no umph or anything. She wasdefecating on herself. It was a miserable,terrible, awful thing towatch.

According to staff at People Helping Horses, most of the animals were rated a 2 on the Henneke Scale, a system used to rate a horse's condition based on their body. With 1 being the poorest rating, a 2 on the Henneke Scale means bone structure is faintly discernible in the neck, withers and shoulders, and the ribs and tailhead are prominent.

The owners have not been identified yet. Animal control officers tell KING5 the owners were keeping the horses on leased property on Beaver Lake Road in the Clear Lake area east of Mt Vernon.

The owners' attorney, Jim McBride, says the horses were not in a life-threatening condition.

Our focus is on what is best for the horses -- we just want to see them happy and healthy, said Salstrom.

People Helping Horsesis asking for donation and volunteers to help feed and treat the horses.

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