Within two days, state and local investigators were on the case.
Tuesday, Armstrong filed misdemeanor charges against Earls, a convicted cattle rustler, and his partner Victor Smith, who told Armstrong he was part owner of the horses.
They got feed troughs, they got hay. I'm not hiding nothing you know," said owner Jerry Earls.
"No, I ride a horse 7 days a week for a living," added Earls, when asked if he abused or neglected the horses.
While the State Board of Animal Health does not investigate animal cruelty, Dr. Jim Watson said he is following up on other matters, including rumors this could have been a holding pen for the horses to be moved to Mexico for slaughter.
"Well that's what I've heard as well," said Dr. Watson, "I can't validate that. I don't know that for sure. I know those are part of the rumors. Again we are working to identify animals that have left this property. Where did they go? Who hauled them and where did they go?"
It's possible the horses will be up for adoption in the future.
"We have been in contact with individuals that are interested in working to adopt and to take these animals," added Dr. Watson. "So we are working with the owner and adoption groups and are working on a protocol for releasing the animals once they have met the proper tests, including having a Coggins test to show they are negative."
Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, issued the following statement on the horses:
“Regardless of why he has nearly 200 horses, the owner has a responsibility, both under Mississippi state law and morally, to provide necessary care to his animals. Before law enforcement moves forward without charges, we implore them to look for evidence that the owner provided necessary sustenance that is required by our state law. Having so many injured and deceased horses, combined with the owner's criminal history, authorities need to take a really hard look at this case to ensure no more animals will suffer.”
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