Deputies responding to a call of mistreated animals found 4 horses dead and 5 more in extremely poor condition in northern Minnesota this past spring.
The discovery was made at a residence outside of Laporte in rural Hubbard County, and has resulted in a man and a woman being charged, according to a release from the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office on Monday.
Deputies were carrying out a search warrant when they found the dead horses, and then found five more than were "still alive, but in very poor condition."
"It was discovered that the starving horses had been eating the trees and fence posts that were accessible to them," the sheriff's office said.
The five alive horses were seized police and taken to another location for treatment. One of them was described as "very thin with no muscle over the spine or ribs."
Two people, 32-year-old Johnathan Johnson and 27-year-old Stephanie Johnson, both of Laporte, have been charged with multiple felony counts of mistreatment of animals.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy had originally spoken with Stephanie Johnson when he arrived at the house. She at first denied there was a dead horse on her property – which the deputy had seen.
She then refused to show police where she kept the horse feed until police had a warrant, which the deputy obtained while parked next to the house.
One of the dead horses had been shot, Stephanie Johnson said, because the horse "would not get back up."
Among the other dead horses was a foal, the body of which had been partially eaten by predators.
The only food the deputies found at the house was a partial bag of alfalfa cubes, with several empty bags also located.