FRANKTOWN, Colo. (KDVR) — A local animal shelter is asking for donations to help care for 80 horses that had to be surrendered after they were found neglected, sick and injured.

“It started as a welfare complaint and an investigator went out and started an investigation on that, and we negotiated the surrender of these 80 horses,” Bobbi Priestly said.

Priestly oversees the Harmony Equine Center, which is the branch of the Dumb Friends League that takes in seized or surrendered horses and gets them ready for adoption.

“I would say probably 95% of the horses that we get here are through criminal cases,” she said.

Last week, before this latest group arrived, they had 69 horses in their care. The addition of 80 more is a costly burden.

“And we’ll care for these horses no matter what, but it is extremely helpful when our community and folks step up to the plate and even if they can give $20. It’s such a huge help. Because that takes care of two horses for one day,” Priestly said.

Neglected horses skinny, hurt, ailing

Her staff estimates the cost of food and medical care for the herd will exceed $175,000.

“Emaciation, grave lamenesses, infectious respiratory disease, and now we’ve got some foals breaking with pneumonia,” Dr. Courtney Diehl said.

Many of the horses are extremely skinny and are standing on painful hooves that have not been clipped in a long time.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, so this is probably one of the worst cases I have seen,” Priestly said.

However, she said similar cases are becoming much more common than ever before.

“Unfortunately, it is happening more often and I think probably with the economy the way it is, and people don’t know what they’re getting into when they adopt horses. So I think people need to be educated on what that looks like,” Priestly said.

The horses will spend at least 2-3 months in rehabilitation before they will become available for adoption.

“It is hard. But it’s satisfying when you can have an outcome like this and have healthy animals will hopefully find great homes,” Diehl said.

If you would like to help pay for the care of the horses, donations can be made here.