SAN DIEGO–County Department of Animal Services removed 15 horses this week from a property in Ramona, after a long investigation showed the animals were suffering dangerous neglect, without adequate food and care.
The department rescued three horses from the property May 29 that were between 150 and 300 pounds underweight. Animal Services had been trying to work with the owner to provide adequate food and care for more than a month.
The owner requested an administrative hearing after the May 29 rescue, challenging whether Animal Services had grounds to remove the first three horses, and whether 12 additional horses should be removed because of inadequate care.
A hearing officer upheld the County’s concern and action Thursday afternoon, and Animal Services immediately rescued the remaining horses.
Animal Services took all of the animals to the County’s animal care facility in Bonita, where they are now under veterinary care.
“The owner was not providing the necessary care to improve the health of her horses which left us no choice but to seize the animals and take them into protective custody,” said County Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson.
As part of the administrative process, the owner has 14 days to reclaim her horses if she shows she can provide the necessary care and if she can pay the cost of their impoundment, housing and medical care.
If the owner does not try to reclaim the horses, or cannot show she can provide the necessary care, the animals will remain at the Animal Services care facility in Bonita until they are healthy enough to be adopted.
County Animal Services had periodically received complaints about the care of the rescued horses since 2009, but this is the first time animal control officers impounded her animals.
Animal control officers are determining whether to submit the case to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution.