Nearly 70 horses have been seized by authorities in Pennington County. Now, a criminal investigation is underway into the people who may be behind the mistreatment of the horses.
Off of Radar Hill Road, just east of Rapid City, is a property where authorities found the 69 horses. After complaints about the condition of the animals and input from the state veterinarian, the sheriff's department took action.
"On January the eighth, an order for impoundment of those animals was granted, giving the sheriff's office responsibility for care of those animals," Capt. Corey Brubakken of the Pennington County Sheriff's Department said.
There's now a criminal investigation into caretakers Donald and Terry Harwood, who were leasing a home and some pasture on the property.
The two believed to be responsible for the neglect owned some of the animals but were boarding others.
"It's our understanding that that was a service that the Harwoods would provide," Brubakken said.
Investigators are already reaching out to some of those who entrusted the Harwoods with their animal's welfare.
"We are actively trying to identify the owners, rightful owners of those horses being boarded so that we can work on release dates of those horses back to those owners," Brubakken said.
Because of the condition of the horses, authorities opted not to move them to a different location.
"Their care is being given by neighbors, other volunteers, and members of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office," Brubakken said.
There's no word yet on what criminal charges Donald and Terry Harwood may face.
Some of the horse owners were beginning to pick their animals up by this afternoon. At this time, the stiffest charge for animal cruelty or neglect in South Dakota is a misdemeanor, which means up to a year in prison if convicted.