More than 100 neglected animals found at Nev. farm

Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 8:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 8:29 p.m.

RENO, Nev. — In one of the worst cases they can remember, Nevada agriculture officials have cited a woman for animal cruelty for neglecting more than 100 barnyard animals, including 35 starving horses and a goat that died from eating wool off a sheep carcass.

Jan Lemley of Battle Mountain faces 42 counts of animal cruelty. Each count carries a civil fine of $1,000, said Nevada Department of Agriculture spokesman Ed Foster.

Lemley did not immediately return a telephone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday. She told The Battle Mountain Bugle, which first reported the incident, that her attorney had advised her not to comment.

It was not immediately clear if any criminal charges would be filed.

Lander County Sheriff Ron Unger said two of the horses, three llamas, three goats and two sheep died at the rural property in Battle Mountain about 220 miles east of Reno.

Foster said a state veterinarian became physically ill upon arrival at the scene last weekend.

"It's the worst case of animal cruelty they've ever witnessed," Foster told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "It's really sad."

The two horses — which a neighbor had described as "walking skeletons" — died from severe malnutrition and at least one of the starving goats died from ingesting wool, Foster said.

"There was nothing to eat, so they started eating wool off the sheep carcasses," he said.

Unger did not immediately return a call seeking comment. He told the Bugle that 53 goats, 24 llamas, 20 sheep, six pigs and an assortment of chickens and rabbits remained on the property under the control of Lander County and the sheriff's office.

Foster said one of the horses was dead when inspectors arrived and the other died the following day. The 33 surviving horses have been transferred to an undisclosed location where they are receiving round-the-clock care from state veterinarians.

Unger said a judge will decide what happens to the horses.

Sid Slate, a neighbor who moved to the area six months ago from Lyle, Wash., was one of the people who reported the abuse. He said he was sickened by what he saw.

"From the last month driving by, we could see the ribs on the horses," he said. "I saw a few horses that looked like nothing but walking skeletons."

State brand inspector Blaine Northrup, who also visited the site, said Wednesday he'd never seen such hungry animals.

"This is the first time I've ever run into a barnyard and had chickens running toward me," he said.

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