PENDLETON - Horses and dogs seized by authorities last March because of neglect have been nursed back to health and are ready for adoption through the Pioneer Humane Society.
Some of the 14 horses and three of the four dogs found malnourished, neglected and lice-infested March 19 on Cold Springs Road in Pendleton have already been adopted, said Carol Speed, president of the Pioneer Humane Society.
Since the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office seized the animals, they have been with foster families under the county's supervision. Late last month the Umatilla County commissioners authorized Sheriff John Trumbo to turn control of the animals over to Pioneer Humane Society so they could be adopted.
Anyone interested in adopting the remaining dog, a 2-year-old shepherd, or any of the horses, which range in age from 1-28 years old, should call the Pioneer Humane Society at 276-0181 or 1-866-HUMANE-1.
Applicants must fill out an application form and undergo a brief background check to ensure they have no history of animal abuse. The property of people interested in adopting horses will be inspected to make sure there is space suitable for a horse. There is a $100 adoption fee.
Speed said that even though the adopted animals will have a new home, the animals will stay under the jurisdiction of the Pioneer Humane Society for three years.
"We want to make sure the new owners don't sell them for big bucks right away, and also if the animal is abused we can go in and take it back," Speed said. "We just don't want them back in the condition they were in before, because they're flourishing now."
In March, police arrested Bernadine Hulett on animal neglect charges after an investigation that began in 2001 and revealed severe neglect. According to the sheriff's office, the animals had been kept in an environment where they lacked proper fundamental care, including adequate food, water and medication.
Hulett was originally charged with 18 counts of second-degree animal neglect, but Deputy District Attorney Ryan Bowe said the charges were dropped because Hulett came to an agreement with the DA's office to forfeit the animals.
"Our main concern was the safety of the horses, and our agreement was that she'd forfeit ownership of the horses," Bowe said.
Hulett will not be allowed to own another horse for at least three years, Bowe noted.
Hulett told the East Oregonian in March that she was diagnosed with cancer in January and that she'd been unable to work and take care of the horses. Hulett said she'd tried but was unable to sell some of the horses or give them away.
Authorities found horses penned up in a small pasture, and one was tied to a tree with baling twine. The dogs were tied to a horse trailer without food.