Horses seized in Enumclaw after allegations of hoarding, abandonment

Sharon Hunter said the horses would be staying on the land for just a few weeks — but it’s alleged she more or less abandoned them there.

The King County Sheriff’s Office recently raided a Plateau home and took custody of 25 horses after receiving tips concerning animal abuse.

According to Sgt. Ryan Abbott, deputies went to the home on the 38300 block of 324rd Place SE on Saturday, Dec. 7, after the homeowner called SAFE —the Save A Forgotten Equine rescue organization — about the two dozen horses on her land.

The horses reportedly belong to a woman named Sharon Hunter, who is the owner of Hunter’s Wind Wild Horse Rescue, a nonprofit based in Redmond. According to Abbott, Hunter asked the homeowner to house some horses for a few weeks while Hunter found a more permanent home for them.

However, several reports were made to SAFE stating Hunter wasn’t feeding the horses, nor was there any shelter as the weather started to get colder.

SAFE has taken custody of the horses, which are now up for adoption.

The Redmond Reporter published an article about Hunter and her nonprofit last September. According to the paper, Hunter’s Wind Wild Horse Rescue started out taking in horses scheduled to be killed, but it was unknown if any of the horses were being put up for adoption. The number of horses Hunter owns is unclear, but at one time was estimated to number more than 100.

A photo of Sharon Hunter, pulled from a GoFundMe created to raise money to buy hay for horses. Hunter is being accused of hoarding horses around Washington.

A photo of Sharon Hunter, pulled from a GoFundMe created to raise money to buy hay for horses. Hunter is being accused of hoarding horses around Washington.

In February 2018, the Snohomish County Animal Services received a complaint about some horses much in the same situation as the ones seized in Enumclaw — Hunter reportedly approached the homeowners to board the horses on their land, but allegedly failed to care for them.

According to the Reporter, law officers and veterinarians found one horse lying in his own feces and urine, severely malnourished, as well as other horses that were wounded, underweight, and infected.

Hunter was charged with six counts of second-degree animal cruelty in Snohomish County.

Since then, King County has seized horses from an Auburn herd of 80 in August, where there were more allegations of undernourishment and abandonment.

Additionally, there was an issue in Fall City with a herd of 40 after property owners sent a notice to Hunter they wanted her horses off their land. After the deadline to move the horses passed, SAFE attempted to help adopt out some of the horses, but were told to cease and desist by Hunter, who was then allowed to take the 25 horses to move elsewhere.

It’s been speculated those 25 horses were then moved to Enumclaw.

“The truth is that she’s got groups of horses that she’s just shuffling from one place to another. Either she gets thrown off a property, or law enforcement’s getting too close or what have you,” Bonnie Hammond, executive director of SAFE, said in an interview with the Reporter. “She’ll tell stories about saving America’s wild horses and all this really romantic stuff. But in truth, she’s just stockpiling them and they sit and they fight with each other and the stallions breed with the mares.

“I would like her to stop acquiring horses,” she continued. “She needs to stop doing this and the scary thing is, there’s still plenty of horses out there. She could get them from the auctions by the truckload.”

A GoFundMe page for Hunter was created in August to raise money for emergency hay for the horses; only about $300 was raised.

Contact information for Hunter could not be found before deadline; it appears the nonprofit’s Facebook page has been disabled.