More than 60 allegedly maltreated horses are in the care of the Pennington County, S.D., Sheriff’s Department after being removed from their owners earlier this month.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said that, in December 2012, after receiving a complaint, South Dakota Animal Industry Board personnel discovered 69 horses residing on a 35-acre parcel without food or water. An industry board veterinarian examined the animals and animal welfare personnel attempted to work with owners, Donald and Terry Harwood, to improve the animals’ care, Thom said. When the animals’ conditions did not improve, a court order issued on Jan. 8, placed the horses in the Sheriff’s Department’s care, Thom said.

Neither Donald nor Terry Harwood was available for comment.

At the time of the removal all the horses including several pregnant mares were in poor condition, Thom said.

"You can imagine 69 horses on 35 acres," Thom said. "The ground was smooth as a tabletop."

Thom said results of the joint investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and the South Dakota Animal Industry Board have been submitted for review by the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, Thom said.

"I expect charges to be filed late next week," Thom said.

In the meanwhile, the horses remain in the care of Sheriff’s Department personnel and community volunteers, he said.