Horses Removed from California Ranch 'Thriving'

While their former owner faces animal neglect charges, most of the 40 horses seized from a Humboldt County, Calif., ranch are thriving, according to Sara Isaacson of Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue.

"They've turned the corner," said Isaacson, who has been the horses' caretaker. "They're gaining weight and getting lots of attention."

Acting on a tip that the 40 horses were malnourished, standing in filth, and in need of veterinary care, authorities removed the animals from a ranch owned by Elsie Smith of Myers Flat, Calif., on April 1.

"Of the 40 horses seized, three were returned to their owners, and two had to be euthanized," said Animal Control Officer Andre Hale. Smith declined to give up ownership of 11 of the horses in Animal Control custody.

During her arraignment, Smith pleaded not guilty to one count of neglecting 40 horses, and one count of obstructing a peace officer for attempting to hide one horse from authorities.

Each charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail, and forfeiture of the 11 horses still owned by Smith, said Assistant District Attorney, Wes Keat.

Smith's attorney Neal Sanders was unavailable for comment on the case.

A pre-trial hearing for the case is slated for May 7.

Meanwhile, the 24 horses Smith relinquished will be sold at sealed bid auction in May.

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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