For the second time in three months, emaciated horses have been seized from an East Bethel farm. One of them was so weak that it collapsed before authorities could get it onto a trailer.

Anoka County authorities are expected to make a decision next week on whether to file animal negligence charges against Friday, who runs a horse-boarding business, said Animal Humane Society investigator Keith Streff. Ten starving horses were seized from Friday's farm in late August.

"This is a mystery because he has a significant amount of hay and grain available," said Streff, who was called to Friday's farm this week and has been there several other times over the past 13 years.

In a press conference on Friday, Streff described the seven seized horses as victims of Lowell Friday's "unwillingness or inability to care" for the horses. About 30 other horses remain at the farm.

Of the seven horses brought to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Center this week, two were regarded as "within weeks" of dying from malnutrition, said Dr. Alex Draper , a university resident in large-animal internal medicine. Most were 200 or 300 pounds below a normal weight of 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, she added. The horses have gained 30-40 pounds since their arrival at the U, eating small rations of hay, and are "all doing better than expected," Draper said.

Horse condition is often graded on a scale from 1 through 9, or from "poor" to "extremely fat," with 6 or 7 considered ideal.

The seven horses seized Wednesday were rated from 1 to 3.

When malnourished horses were seized from Friday's farm in August, the heft of some rated 3 or lower. At least two of the horses seized this week registered at 1 1/2 or less, Streff said.

Friday was convicted of a misdemeanor mistreatment of animals after the death of a colt in 2007.

Similar situations

Three members of an Appleton, Minn., family were charged last summer with the first felony animal maltreatment charges in Minnesota for allegedly starving horses.

In July, Leann Hanson, 43, of Starbuck, Minn., was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $500 after Pope County sheriff's deputies and Animal Humane Society officials found seven dead horses and 14 others severely emaciated and dehydrated on her property.

In September, eight starving horses and two mules were seized from a farm near Litchfield, Minn., after neighbors complained of seeing a dead horse that had not been buried, said Bobbie Bauman of the Animal Humane Society of Meeker and Kandiyohi counties. No charges had been filed in that case as of late October.

Streff said that Friday had approximately 100 horses 13 years ago, when Streff was first called to investigate his farm. In August, Friday had more than 60 horses.

Friday did not return calls from the Star Tribune. • 612-673-4419 • 612-673-7646