BEND, Ore. — A horse rescue organization in central Oregon is on the verge of shutting down after being plagued by infighting, bookkeeping problems and a state probe.

Equine Outreach Inc., which currently cares for about 65 horses, has stopped taking in new animals, and the board has recently voted to begin the process of dissolving the organization, The Bulletin reported on Wednesday. The organization has taken in horses that are either surrendered by owners who are unable to care for them or are seized by law enforcement agencies in neglect cases.

About a year ago, the entire board resigned over disagreements with the organization’s founders about bookkeeping practices. Gary Everett and Joan Steelhammer, the husband and wife founders, own the property outside Bend where the horses are housed. The new board has since diminished their role in the organization.

The state Department of Justice recently closed an investigation into the organization that found it failed to adequately track its funds. While department officials said the organizations violated state law, charges were not filed.

Bill Inman, president of the board, said the sloppy accounting spurred the resignations and the investigation, and it also hindered the organization’s ability to raise money. He said they expect a spending deficit this year, and they’re looking at other options to house the horses.

Steelhammer and Inman both said the welfare of the horses is the priority.


Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com