Owner Charged in Washington Equine Cruelty Case

A Washington state man is facing animal cruelty charges in connection with the alleged maltreatment of 39 horses on his Pierce County property.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said that on Sept. 25, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent was executing a federal search warrant on a 99-acre property owned by John Diller when he noticed more than three dozen horses allegedly living in filthy conditions. The agent contacted Pierce County Animal Control personnel who discovered 39 horses, including 10 stallions allegedly residing in three dark run-down barns and outdoor paddocks, Lindquist said. Stalls inside the barns contained excessive accumulations of filth, and paddocks contained manure piles one or more feet high, Lindquist said. Most of the horses were allegedly underweight, and had poor muscle tone and overgrown hooves, he said.

The animals were transported to Frontier Park in Graham, Wash., for veterinary and other care, where several were determined to have severe and painful medical conditions due to neglect, Lindquist said. Five horses were euthanized due to the severity of their condition, and three were euthanized due to dangerous behavior, he said.

The horses' owner John Diller, 69, was later charges with ten counts of second degree animal cruelty.

Diller was unavailable for comment.

Diller's arraignment is slated for Dec. 27.

In the meantime, a District Court judge allowed the return of 11 horses to Diller after he demonstrated that he had improved the property well enough to support the animals, Lindquist said.

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