Animal rescued groups from across Texas met on the property of Marlin resident Brett Orth, 53, who relinquished his rights to the starving animals on December 21 after an investigation was started Friday. If not for area residents calling the Falls County Sheriff’s Office beginning the week of December 14 asking the horses be removed, they would most likely still be on the property starving to death.
Orth has been in the McLennan County jail for several days on unrelated charged of theft by check and two unpaid tickets in McLennan County and for property theft in Limestone County. His bond is $3,000, of which $2,000 has to be paid in cash before Orth can be released.
Nearly 100 animals were removed from the property, KCEN News updated December 23. Seized were 19 horses, six donkeys, four cats, a dog, 16 pigs( including ten newborn piglets), 40+ chickens, and a goose. Three to five horses, including three mares who had foals, died. A calf also died from neglect. Six horses went to Meridian Falls Ranch, including two of the orphans and three went to a private rescue run by Melanie Neagle. The Humane Society of North Texas is caring for the remaining animals who weren’t placed in rescue after they got involved when photos a posted online showed the extent of the neglect.
The surviving horses all survived the trip to Dallas and have been examined by vets and dewormed. As of Wednesday the horses are all eating well and looking better. Morgan McComb, a political activist working with the Humane Society of North Texas, reported at least 10 horse and cow carcasses were discovered on the property Monday. In an interview with KWTX News McComb stated
“The people of this county have been making complaints for nine months. A neighbor over there has pictures from the whole nine months. Yeah, I’m pretty disappointed when animals die for no reason, I mean we are here to help. We are one phone call away.”
Falls County Ben Kirk reported on Tuesday he didn’t’ know whether Orth would face animal abuse charges yet, as the investigation is on-going. Costs to care for the animals is projected to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Rescue groups involved in this massive rescue are struggling to raise funds.
Falls County Sheriff Ben Kirk told KWTX News on Monday that every time they’ve been called to the property the owner was feeding the animals. Kirk stated the current investigation shows Orth was feeding the animals and Kirk has no clue as to how the animals died or when they died.