In early February, Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office deputies learned that Silver Oaks Saddlebreds, a horse farm located at 8350 NE Hendricks Road in rural Carlton, was without water as it had been shut off for non-payment. The property contained almost 50 horses.
Silver Oaks Saddlebred is owned by Susan Swango, 82 years of age. The Sheriffs’ Office is familiar with Swango and her property based on previous animal neglect complaints. During an investigation approximately 5 months prior, a veterinarian assessed the horses on the property. At that time evidence did not rise to the level of probable cause for an arrest or search warrant.
With potable water now unavailable to the farm, deputies became concerned that Swango may be unable to provide her horses minimum care. Oregon law states that animals must be provided with care sufficient to preserve their health and well-being, including open or adequate access to potable water in sufficient quantity to satisfy the animal’s needs.
Deputies assisted Yamhill County Code Enforcement in the service of an administrative warrant at Silver Oaks on February 19th. During the service, deputies discovered inadequate food and water sources for the horses. Water was being obtained from a nearby creek but was insufficient. Deputies on scene were very concerned about the physical condition of the horses.
The following day, the Sheriff’s Office arranged for a donation of 2 tons of alfalfa hay for Swango which she accepted. She refused an offer of 1,000 gallons of water.
On February 23rd and 24th, the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office Crime Response Team (CRT) and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), with the assistance of special agents with the Oregon Humane Society, served a search warrant at Silver Oaks.
With the help of Sound Equine Options, a non-profit horse rescue based out of Gresham, and based on a veterinarian’s evaluation, investigators seized all 48 horses from the property. Seven cats were also seized and taken to the Oregon Humane Society.
In an unfortunate incident, one horse died of injuries sustained from falling over while volunteers attempted to guide it into a rescue trailer.
Swango was issued a citation to appear for Animal Neglect in the Second Degree, which is a felony based on the number of affected animals. Her court date is scheduled for March 24th. The case is being prosecuted by the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office by Oregon Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney Jake Kamins.
Sheriff Svenson expressed his sincere appreciation to all who participated with his office in this operation. “While we wear many hats in law enforcement, occasionally we run into situations where true expertise and skills in a particular area are needed. Sound Equine Options and the Oregon Humane Society’s vast knowledge were instrumental in getting these animals the assistance they need”.
Maintaining this number of horses through the prosecution process is extremely expensive. Sound Equine Options, a non-profit, is accepting monetary donations. Donations can be made through their website at this address:http://soundequineoptions.org/ways-to-help/.
Article provided by Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office
The Oregon Horse Council is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit that works to strengthen, connect, and represent Oregon’s equine industry.