Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seized Horses Strain Humane Society

Three family members arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals

By Sondra Murphy
After acquiring 14 horses in late September from a Lockwood Valley ranch, trepidation over the safety of the remainder of the animals compelled officials to return with a search warrant Wednesday.
“The Ventura County Humane Society was very concerned about the remaining horses,” said spokeswoman Kathleen Kaiser. “When the sheriffs arrived, they found an additional 38 neglected horses, as well as carcasses of dead horses in the nearby forest.” Of the original 14, one mare has died.
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Ross Bonfiglio, deputies served the search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation and made three arrests in a cruelty to animals case involving malnourished and emaciated horses on a 21-acre Lockwood Valley ranch.
The joint operation included the use of four veterinarians as well as members of the U.S. Forest Service, Ventura County Animal Regulation, the Ventura County Humane Society, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Evacuation Rescue Team, and several volunteers.
During the search of Cochema Ranch, located in the 16,000 block of the Curtis Trail, deputies recovered evidence and arrested Ernie, Joan and Cecelia Bor. They were arrested on suspicion of numerous counts of felony cruelty to animals, according to Deputy Bill Hollowell of the Lockwood Valley Station and each has posted $10,000 bail. After an assessment of the animals, 38 more horses were deemed to need off-site care. Some were voluntarily relinquished by ranch owners and others were impounded by the Humane Society. The remaining 57 horses were left at the ranch and the area was designated as a temporary animal shelter with those horses held under the care of Ventura County Department of Animal Regulation until the ranch owners returned Thursday. According to director Kathy Jenks, the care of the remaining horses will be closely monitored.
Shelter officials estimated that it would take a minimum of $100,000 to bring the horses back to health. “We have 38 new horses on shelter grounds right now,” said director Jolene Hoffman at the Ojai shelter. “There are a lot of pregnant mares and we’ll have to put together more piping to secure them. We’ll also need horse shelters and funds to provide veterinary care and food.”
The time factor for recovery is a significant part of the cost. “This could be six to nine months of trying to get these horse back to health. The weight goes off fast, but you have to be careful about putting it back on to avoid colic,” said Hoffman. The shelter also must take care in how they supply the corrals, avoiding shavings or hay bedding usually provided. “When they’re starving, horses are going to eat anything they can get.” Hoffman said they also need manure scoopers known as “apple pickers,” large wheelbarrows and large water containers able to hold about 500 gallons.
Kaiser added that the Human Society property has the space to accommodate the horses, but pipe corral and supplies would be needed to tend to the animals. “We usually board horses, like in cases of fire, and take care of them until we can evacuate them out, but we’ve got to keep these now.”
The cost will create a burden on the Humane Society, which relies completely on public donations for the services it provides. “We really need the support of horse lovers and horse groups in the area to get their help,” said Kaiser. Due to the wild nature of the rescued horses, the shelter will not be able to use volunteers during the rehabilitation of the animals.
The horses had grown feral and proved hazardous to round up. “When you’re dealing with starving horses that have not had proper care, it becomes very dangerous,” said Hoffman. “All of a sudden, this head mare shifted and came so fast that a forestry officer was hit full on and she went down. All of us are absolutely devastated. She’s a great lady and we were standing right next to her when it happened. The Sheriff’s Department officers were incredible, the way they took care of her.”
Injured was Heather Campbell, Forest Service special agent, who was airlifted to Ventura County Medical Center. Campbell, who serves the Pacific Southwest Region and is assigned to Los Padres National Forest, was knocked to the ground and suffered a head injury during the incident. “She is in stable condition and is most likely going to be in the hospital for several days while being evaluated,” said Kathy Good, Forest Service public affairs officer. “Heather is a character and a lovely person.”
Despite Campbell’s injury and the sad state of the horses, Hoffman was pleased with the dedicated group effort of so many agencies in the rescue. “It was incredible working with such a great group,” said Hoffman. “(Ojai Police Chief) Chris Dunn was there too. We are very, very fortunate here in Ojai to work with him.”
For more information about assisting the Ventura County Humane Society with this horse rehabilitation effort, call the shelter at 646-6505.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

What you did not include in the article was why did the people have so many horses to begin with?

Anonymous said...

For sure, one of the who, what, when, where, WHY questions all news stories should address. Ms. Murphy is an excellent writer. Surprised she missed this.

Anonymous said...

Editor....your story repeats itself down toward the bottom. Starting, I think, where it tells of the horses being feral and the USFS lady being injured.

OVN administrator said...

Thanks for catching the editing error. It has been corrected.

Anonymous said...

youbetcha

Anonymous said...

Call the HSUS they have a 1,200 acre horse sancturay. They are about 350 horses from being full

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa Snider said...

I continue to be sickened by reports of animals being abandoned. The foreclosure crisis has given failed homeowners the distressing belief that they can abandon their pets without reprisal. Our local humane society shelter is overflowing as a result. This Christmas, if you get a wild hair about buying a pet for your kids, skip the mall pet stores and the puppy mills (aka breeders), and head on over to the shelter to adopt an adorable pet that deserves a forever home.

Lenny Roberts said...

Amen, Lisa.

Anonymous said...

I heard a news report on TV that said these people had all of these horses as they envisioned themselves as rescuers. Have heard many reports, cannot recall which exact one stated this.

mister ed said...

could we butcher them and serve horse tacos at ojai day

Anonymous said...

that almost sounds more humane than the horrific torture they have had to endure - fortunately they are now in caring hands

mister ed said...

I am happy to here that my bretheryn are in good hands

Anonymous said...

What took the VC Humane Society so long to take action against these horse owners? Complaints go back to 2006. This lack of action is not new for the VCHS. And what was the delay that caused Ms. Wallace to get the Sheriff's officers to the ranch because the VCHS didn't come when they said they would? Those are the questions that should be answered.

Anonymous said...

you miss the point...the real question here is, why would someone deliberately starve horses to death? thank goodness for the VCHS!

Lou Sassle said...

How do the La Dodgers look this post season

Anonymous said...

They won last night, now they are 1 and 2

Anonymous said...

$100K to get them back to healthy? That's BS! If it's going to cost that much, why doesn't Hoffman just butcher the horses and feed them to all the dogs & cats already there? Honestly, we could solve two problems in this country if we fed all the homeless animals to the homeless people.