Officers began investigating after receiving repeated complaints that the man's horses along E. Lowell-Larimer Road were living in poor conditions.
The county has been trying to work with the man, 72, about his horses' care for the past five years, according to court papers. The county has received more than 22 complaints about him during that time.
Over repeated visits to the man's land in recent months, animal control officers documented and photographed incidents where the man's horses didn't have enough food, or had poor-quality food, court papers show. The horses also allegedly weren't being treated for various health problems, such as hair loss, eye infections and skin sores.
The investigating officers were working on building a comprehensive case that led to the man being served with civil orders on Friday, said Vicki Lubrin, the county's licensing and animal control services manager. The orders spell out the officers' conclusions that the man is violating county codes regarding animal cruelty and neglect.
Animal control officers in recent weeks also secured a judge's permission to force the man to allow a veterinarian to go onto his land and conduct medical assessments of each horse, court papers show.
That happened in late April.
The man can appeal the civil orders and a related fine, Lubrin said. If he doesn't follow the orders, the case will be forwarded to county prosecutors for review. Prosecutors could potentially file criminal charges.
The Herald is not naming the man because he has not been charged with a crime.
County officials believe the number of animals living on the man's land varies, but the most recent count included 13 adult horses.
County animal control officers are commissioned through the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office to enforce county and state laws regarding animals. They work under the county auditor. Some cities operate their own animal control divisions.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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