WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) -- Necropsies and preliminary tests have failed to determine the causes of death of nine deceased livestock animals that were seized by the state from a Weld County property last month.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture stated Monday that "the cause, mechanisms, and manner of death of the animals remains undetermined."
The nine carcasses were in various stages of decomposition. The owner left the bodies in the pens inhabited by the rest of her animals, drawing criticism from citizens near and far about the owner's perceived low standards of care.
Despite declaring no evidence existed that met the legal definition of animal abuse or neglect, animal welfare officials at the county and state level were also called out by members of the public for not stepping in and removing the live animals from the owner's possession.
"Right now, we just haven't found a criminal charge that we think can stick," Weld County Sheriff's Office spokesman Joseph Moylan told CBS4 on Feb. 13th.
However, those officials stepped in a week later with what was termed an "assemble the herd" order from the state agriculture department.
Owner Halina Morley provided the department's veterinarians access to all her live animals - ponies, chickens, pigs, ducks, goats, rabbits, and at least one dog among them - for examination. The state examined also collected the carcasses for extensive testing.
In Monday's announcement, the state confirmed that the extensive stages of decomposition presented difficulties in obtaining accurate test results, as expected. It also explained that more testing is already underway.
Information gained by the testing will contribute to the sheriff's office investigation and an ultimate determination of wrongdoing, if any.
"It's safe to say legal counsel for the interested agencies at the local and state levels agree with the findings of our investigation so far that although the animals' living conditions are less than ideal, there's no evidence to suggest Halina has committed a crime," Moylan said.
The situation came to light the first week of February when neighbors began sharing photos of Morley's property and animals on social media.
Moylan added the Weld animal control officers were aware of the situation for several months and were being called to the property by concerned citizens as often as three times a week. The sheriff's office issued a trespassing warning to citizens out of concern that attempts would be made to rescue the remaining animals illegally.
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