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Man charged with animal abuse

A Branch County man has been charged with felony animal abuse after sheriff’s deputies found a dead horse and nine others that were underfed on his farm in Ovid Township.

The Branch County Sheriff’s Department said Geoffrey Eickmann, 33, was arrested Thursday after a warrant was issued. He remains at the county jail in Coldwater under a $25,000 bond after his arraignment Monday.

Investigators said neighbors had noticed a herd of horses in a pasture, and they appeared to be starving. The animals had eaten wooden fence posts down to the ground and chewed up wood in the barn, along with all vegetation they could reach, authorities said. The only water available was in a plastic tub filled with snow, and a small heater could not thaw enough in the extreme cold for the horses to drink.

The surviving horses were taken to veterinary facilities to be treated for worms and other ailments resulting from lack of care, officials said.