Through authority of two orders, a Jefferson County judge is allowing the sheriff's department to seek adoption homes for 75 horses confiscated in January.

The animals belonged to Dupont resident Jeff Hayes, who faces criminal charges of cruelty to animals and improper disposal of dead animals. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department originally seized more than 80 animals after finding several dead horses on the property and then identifying several others with signs of malnutrition, according to court reports.

Since then, several of those animals have died or had to be euthanized, leaving 75 in the county's temporary care. The county has been working with local residents and even a horse rescue facility to provide care for the animals while awaiting the court proceedings.

Superior Court Judge Alison Frazier made the final order allowing adoption for the displaced horses Thursday. That order included 24 horses. Last month, Frazier made a similar order for 51 horses. Both decisions came after the Indiana State Veterinarian Office reviewed the animals and recommended they be permanently removed from Hayes' care, according to court records.

In addition, Hayes did not pay a $60,000 cash bond for the care of the animals, prompting Frazier to grant the county authority to release the horses.

The horses range from ages 1 to 20, and a few them are pregnant. The sheriff's department has not recovered any medical records or paperwork on the animals from Hayes.

Deputy Yancy Denning, who is leading the investigation, said a majority of the horses released by the judge this week already have adoption homes lined up. Seventeen of those horses were kept at a horse rescue facility in Kentucky, and the owners have expressed interest in adopting the animals, he said.

"Almost all of those on this last release are already spoken for," Denning said.

Of the 51 horses released in March, 13 still remain up for adoption, he added.

There is no adoption cost, though the county will run a criminal background check on those interested in adoption before releasing the horses.

Anyone interested in adopting can contact Denning at the sheriff's office at (812) 265-2648. There also is a Facebook page,, which features the animals up for adoption.