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      Horse neglect photos stir outrage and investigation

      Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl says a Donnellson, Iowa man has been arrested and charged with livestock neglect.

      Jeffrey Lee Graber, 55, was arrested on Wednesday.

      Click here for the newest details in this developing story.


      Area residents are outraged over what they say is horse neglect in southeast Iowa.

      Concerned residents sent KHQA photos of horses they say were not getting proper food, water and veterinary care.

      Jeff Graber has two pastures outside of Donnellson where horses are kept. A freshly severed horse leg was found on one of those properties this past weekend.

      (CAUTION: The fourth photo in the slideshow contains a graphic image of the severed leg.) The photos shown here were submitted to KHQA by a source who did not want their identity to be made public. KHQA examined the photos and our geo-tracking analysis of the data imbedded in the photos indicates they were taken at January 4 at 2:05 p.m. at one of the pastures in which Graber keeps horses.

      Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl said his department received a complaint about the horses on Christmas Eve.

      Click here to view raw video.

      "At that time, we had a deputy respond," Sheriff Sholl said. "He agreed some of them looked thin. We visited with Mr. Graber and discovered there wasn't any visible food where these animals were contained. Since that visit, the hay is now in the pasture area highly visible. The barn is open to the horses for shelter from the cold weather."

      KHQA asked Sheriff Sholl if the horses have enough water. The sheriff answered he believed so, but that that answer has not been confirmed yet.

      This isn't the first complaint against Graber and his horses. Sheriff Sholl says someone filed a complaint against him in August 2011.

      "It was a founded complaint that there were some animals in dire need of needing to be nursed back to health," Sheriff Sholl said. "The county attorney had us serve notice of rehabilitation to Mr. Graber. A vet was called in, so a certain course of action was planned with Graber to bring his horses back to health. He did comply with those stipulations."

      Sheriff Sholl said his department is taking the allegations seriously. He said the department has a deputy on staff who is trained to identify horse abuse and neglect. Sheriff Sholl asks outraged residents to have patience.

      "I understand there are animal groups out there that become emotionally upset over situations like this," he said. "We can only ask them to be patient, let us do our job cause the animal's owner still enjoys the same rights as everyone else that may be suspected of a crime. We do take this seriously, but investigations take time."

      Sheriff Sholl said one of his deputies plans to meet with Graber on Tuesday.

      A telephone message left for Graber Monday wasn't returned.

      Click here to watch complete video of this story.