Fifty-five horses, ponies and donkeys -- many of them emaciated and with untreated wounds -- were seized by authorities from a ranch in southern Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society said Friday. Numerous carcasses also were found on the property in Fillmore County.

Charges were not immediately filed against the owner of the animals, who were seized earlier this week, following complaints concerning the property.

"In addition to the severity of the case, this was one of the largest and more complex operations involving horses I've seen, requiring a major effort to remove and relocate the animals," said Keith Streff, investigator for the Humane Society.

A dozen horses considered to be in the most acute condition were transported to the University of Minnesota Large Animal Hospital in St. Paul for examination. The results of the exams will be reviewed by the county prosecutor to determine what, if any, criminal charges will be issued.

As of Friday morning, four of the animals had been euthanized because of severe health complications. The condition of the remaining horses is still being determined.

Horses not taken to the animal hospital were transported to the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Preston.

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419