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Horses seized in Manatee County cruelty case

Posted: 6:39 PM, Dec 23, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-23 23:47:10Z
Manatee County deputies are investigating what they describe as a terrible case of animal abuse. Multiple horses were seized from a property in Myakka City after numerous complaints.
 
Investigators told ABC Action News that until Tuesday they didn't have clear evidence of abuse. They had gone to the property in Myakka City several times, but the horses were in good shape. After a recent tip to the Sheriff's Office, however, deputies went back and that's when they discovered the animals needed help right away.
 
Five horses in all were seized from the property along Wingate Road in Myakka City. Deputies responded after various complaints.
 
When ABC Action News showed neighbor Tom Gilchrist pictures of the animals he was clearly disturbed. He said it's a problem that's gone on for far too long.
 
"Makes me sick, makes me sick. I'm not kidding you. They're doing more harm than good, because they got too many that they can't take care of," Gilchrist said.
 
Property owners Heather and Rico Morin didn't answer when ABC Action News went looking for answers Wednesday. Deputies say they claim money troubles are the root of the problem.
 
"What we were told is that they just didn't have the means to properly care for these horses," said Dave Bristow of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
 
Turns out the couple shares a connection to another disturbing case of animal cruelty in Manatee County. The Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News Heather Morin's parents are Alan and Sheree Napier.
 
Back in 2014 the couple's animal sanctuary was raided. More than 300 animals were seized. Both were later found guilty of abuse and sentenced to time behind bars.
 
At this point the horses are being held on the property of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office farm until they are nursed back to health.
 
The investigation into the abuse is ongoing. Charges have not been filed against the couple.