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Grand jury clears neglected horses case
The Tulare County Grand Jury has determined a complaint in March 2012 concerning neglected horses is unfounded.
The complaint began March 9 when Tulare County Animal Control received a citizen’s complaint concerning neglected horses at Worth Drive just east of Plano Street.
The complaint claimed the horses were unusually thin and one horse was injured, however, an animal control officer, Jeff Lewis, responding to the location, found the horses were actually a bit overweight and had plenty of water. No food was stored on the property due to thefts.
The owner of the horses cooperated, providing receipts of feed, and Lewis said he always found the water tank full and there was always plenty of food during his daily inspections.
That was just the beginning of a long process, with people calling TCAC daily, but the horses were determined — following visits by Porterville Police Department and Porterville Animal Control — to be in general good health.
The Tulare County Grand Jury interviewed relevant witnesses and reviewed relevant documents. In the process they learned numerous citizen calls were made to TCAC, PPD and PAC, and all responded to check on the welfare of the horses and determined they were of normal or slightly heavy weight.
One injured horse was apparently cut on a barbed wire fence after it had been spooked, but a veterinarian was called and the horse treated for its injuries.
The horses were moved to an undisclosed location within Tulare County, and TCAC reported the facility housing the horses was of exceptional quality.
On Nov. 1, 2012, TCAC received a new, unrelated complaint concerning two horses and three ponies located outside the Porterville city limits that were allegedly being neglected. The claim was that one of the horses was thin, the ponies had overgrown hooves and one pony had a severely injured back leg.
TCAC responded. It was determined that the horses were being fed. The feed would have been adequate had the horses been on a grazing pasture.
The horse in question rated a number two on the Henneke Rating Scale, and the ponies had severely overgrown hooves. The injured pony was in need of immediate veterinary care.
The ponies were all slightly overweight. A veterinarian examined the animals and provided counseling on proper care. Two ponies had their hooves trimmed and the injured pony was euthanized due to a broken leg.
Findings and conclusions
Tulare County Animal Control received calls daily regarding the first group of horses. They checked on the welfare of the horses daily and commended TCAC for diligently checking on the same horses after each call.
The grand jury also determined that Porterville Police and Porterville Animal Control responded to concerns that were out of their jurisdiction. TCAC has jurisdictional control over the animals and there is no cooperative agreement for Porterville to respond to TCAC issues.
It was recommended that Porterville Police and Porterville Animal Control refer all county issues to TCAC or the sheriff’s department. Without a cooperative agreement with the county, PPD and PAC should not respond to animal control issues not in their jurisdiction, the report said.