Animal rights activists who gathered outside the Evansburg courthouse on Monday say they will continue to rally throughout the court’s processing of an Alberta woman charged in the deaths of three horses and abuse of dozens of other animals.

Patricia Lynn Moore, 48, and Ross Andrew Atkinson, 50, each face 63 charges of permitting and/or causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to animals.

Three charges were laid against each of the suspects after three horses were found dead on a property in Parkland County. An additional 60 charges were laid against each suspect after police seized 65 horses and six dogs from the ranch last week.

Neither the pair nor their lawyers were present at Monday’s preliminary court meeting.

However, a small rally was.

“We're here today because these animals don't have a voice, so we need to be their voice here today,” explained Alana Meropoulis, an animal rights activist.

Moore’s case was been put over to Feb. 11 so the defense can acquire and look over evidence. But it’s not the first time the animal owner has faced trouble.

In 2012, a Drayton Valley court found her guilty of allowing horses in her care to be in distress. At the time, Alberta SPCA removed 16 horses from her property, finding one dead pregnant mare and other horses in poor body condition. Moore was fined $1,500 and placed under a five-year prohibition from owning or caring for more than two horses.

“Why is it taking so long? Why do animals have to die prior to seizing them?” Meropoulis asked.

She, among others at the courthouse Monday, believe the 2012 punishments were inadequate and hope the current case will set a precedent of harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

“This is a greater, greater cause,” said rally organizer Brenda Belanger. “I'd like to see this as a standpoint to move forward from here and make changes.”

Moore and Atkinson’s representation asked for more time to collect evidence.

Although some at the courthouse were disappointed by the delay, they said they would be present throughout the court process.

With files from Jeremy Thompson