Pierce County prosecutors have charged a Graham-area man whose 39 horses were seized in September with 10 counts of second-degree animal cruelty.
John Diller, 69, is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 27. Additional charges may be filed.
Pierce County officials seized the horses Sept. 25 from Diller’s 99-acre ranch in the 30800 block of Meridian Avenue East after receiving a tip from the DEA.
Auditor Julie Anderson, whose office oversees the county’s animal control division, said the animals were kept in “squalid, neglectful” conditions, including poorly ventilated and lit stalls, some of which were covered in foot-thick layers of manure and urine.
The horses, including 10 stallions, were kept in three run down bars and outdoor paddocks, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. Many were underweight, had poor muscle tone and their hooves were cracked and overgrown, officials said.
Diller’s attorney has denied the allegations, saying Diller loved his horses and wants them back. A judge agreed in November to return 11 horses to Diller after he cleaned up his property.
The horses are being kept at Frontier Park. Eight have been euthanized, five due to medical conditions and three due to “dangerous behavior,” Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said.
Nine are up for adoption. Another 11 have either been adopted or may become available for adoption in the future. Anyone interested in adopting one of the horses can visit www.piercecountywa.org/pets.
The county has paid more than $62,000 to care for the horses. About $12,000 of that came from public donations and $5,000 donors of equine supplies.