VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — After Vermilion County Animal Control rescued nine animals, one family decided to help out. Now that family is on the receiving end of harmful threats.

“I know that the horse community is small, and people talk and rumors fly, but there are times when people just turn their head and turn a blind eye to things,” Orcutt said.

Animal Control Officer Kathleen Orcutt said this should not be one of those times. She said the threats seemed vague until they started including her maiden name, which she hasn’t used in over a decade. That’s when she realized the people sending the threats were referencing hurting the horses that were rescued and that she’s been checking in on consistently.

“The person didn’t even realize who they were talking about because no one calls me by that last name anymore,” said Orcutt. “So, when that name popped up my heart sank, and I thought oh my god.”

Now, Illinois State Police and Vermilion County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that we’re receiving threats in that way. We do our best to try to help the community,” said Hannah Houston, a Vermilion County Animal Control Officer.

Orcutt said she understands animal control’s reputation and said some people may see them as the bad guys, but now she’s asking for the community to put that aside and help keep this family and those animals safe.

“It’s sad in a way because on beautiful sunny days where we felt comfortable letting the horses be out. Now they don’t always get that,” said Orcutt.