A Silverton couple is accused of animal neglect that led to the euthanization of two dogs.
Carol Epping, 43, and Heath Epping, 30, were arrested Feb. 9 after an investigation that began Dec. 29.
Deputies were first called to their home on Spring Villa Road Southeast to a report of two horses and two dogs in poor condition.
Carol Epping told deputies she had separated from her husband in September 2012. According to investigators, she lived on the property but felt the animals belonged to her husband.
Two dogs, named Rudy and Sammy, lacked shelter from the snow and freezing weather at the time and there was no sign of food for the dogs, according to deputies.
They were both extremely weak and exhibited muscular deterioration. Veterinarians determined they had been neglected for so long, it was necessary to euthanize both dogs.
The initial responding deputy saw a single horse in a field behind the house. The deputy said the horse was very thin and there was no food, water or shelter available.
Carol Epping said she couldn't afford to buy food for the animals, but that she also felt it was her husband's responsibility to care for them, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators learned that a second horse had died in late December, just days before deputies arrived to investigate. It was buried on the property.
Family members of the Eppings agreed to care for the surviving horse, Banjo, until a more permanent home could be located. On Jan. 9, the couple signed ownership of the horse over to the United SPCA in Yamhill.
Veterinarians said the horse had been malnourished for some time and was undersized for its age. It lacked even basic maintenance and care, according to investigators.
The field it was in was full of garbage and the horse had also apparently stepped on broken bottles and roofing staples.
The responding veterinarian rated the horse as a two on a scale of one to 10.
However, Banjo is now doing much better and is up for adoption through the United SPCA. For more information, go to http://unitedspca.org.
Deputies urge anyone who is unable to feed and care for their animals to seek assistance from the sheriff's office or animal rescue groups before the animals' conditions deteriorate.
Carol and Heath Epping are charged with four counts of animal neglect.
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