BEATRICE - Gage County is awaiting a court decision regarding the disposition of several horses seized last year in an investigation into animal neglect, allegedly involving a local veterinarian.

A hearing is now set for February 20th in Gage County District Court. Meanwhile, the horses that were seized remain in good health at Epona Horse Rescue near Crete.  "They're going through a lot of hay, because of the cold snap we went through, but they are doing well".

Court proceedings have been continued twice. Gage County Sheriff Millard Gustafson says In the meantime, the county is incurring costs for keeping the animals at the horse rescue.

"Starting last month, we ran out of it started coming out of the (county) budget....with vet bills, I suppose maybe twelve-to-fifteen thousand dollars, for us. We collected about $70,000 donations that went for a lot. We really appreciated that. That helped us a ton, there."

The initial burst of donations from individuals and organizations provided generous help for the animals' care. Occasionally, additional donations have come in, but much of the cost is now borne by Gage County, pending the court decision.

A total of 37 horses were seized last August from two clinics in Beatrice and Pickrell, following a weeks-long investigation. The veterinarian who had the animals in possession was earlier cited for several counts of animal neglect.