California Breeders Plead Not Guilty

A pair of California horse breeders has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony animal cruelty counts for allegedly maltreating animals seized from their property.

In January, Marin Humane Society Atty. Bruce Wagman told that the Marin County Humane Society seized a Warmblood breeding stallion and one mare from the Gray Fox Farm in Petaluma on Dec. 27, 2012. On Jan. 4, two more allegedly maltreated mares were removed from the farm operated by breeders Jill and Alex Burnell.

In February, the Burnells' attorney Margaret Weems filed a civil suit on behalf of the stallion's owner alleging that that the animal was wrongfully seized and asking the court to order the horse returned to his owner.

Wegman said that the Brunells were later charged with five felony counts of animal cruelty in connection to the seized horses, along with five misdemeanor counts of keeping animals without proper care, three misdemeanor animal cruelty counts, and one count of operating a commercial animal establishment without a permit.

On June 13, the Burnells pleaded not guilty to the felony counts against them.

Weems was unavailable for comment on the criminal case.

Wegman said that the horses remain under Marin Humane Society care.

Both the criminal and civil cases remain pending, Wegman said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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