The charges are 5 pages long--a bill for four months worth of care for the 69 horses Jackson County Animal Control seized from the Turn 3 Ranch, and the 15 foals born since.
"I truly believe this is extortion," Matt Mercier, who managed the farm says of the bill.
A judge ordered Tuesday that Mercier and his boss, James Henderson, Jr. pay that bill by 5 pm Wednesday, or lose the horses. They'd pledged to do it--until they saw the nearly $135,000 total.
"It was almost as if they were doing everything they could to make sure we'd lose the horses--to make sure we coudn't pay," Mercier says.
Mercier points to a hospital bill for treatment of an animal control officer injured on the farm as unfair. It amounts to about $6,000 dollars. He says the amount they've spent on hay would feed three times the number of horses on the ranch.
He says the county is looking to profit by selling off horses.
Acting County Administrator Randy Treacher says not. "Honestly, our hope was they'd take the horses back....There is no money to be made because we are only getting back what we've spent."
He stands by the restitution bill, as only fair to the county's taxpayers. "If it hadn't been in bad condition, we wouldn't have spend as much money as we did," he says.
Treacher says Jackson County has not decided what to do with the horses now that they own them, but sale or auction is likely. He says it's the best way to ward off the future cost of caring for them.
"We need to move expeditiously to do something with these horses," Treacher says.
Mercier says the county is using this as a way to raise money to build a new animal shelter, of which they are in need. Treacher confirms plans to build a new shelter, but calls that allegation ridiculous.
Mercier and Henderson will stand trial on charges of animal torture and abuse. A trial date has not been set.