Horses Seized from California Sanctuary

Nearly 90 horses remain under veterinarians' care at undisclosed locations after officials removed them from the Equus Sanctuary in Pearblossom, Calif.

"They were desperately in need of food and water," said Michelle Roache, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control. "We're still evaluating their condition."

A total of 100 horses--many of them elderly--were discovered at the ranch on June 16 when authorities arrived in response to repeated complaints that the horses were emaciated and had little access to food or water. Of those, 12 were euthanized on the scene.

"The euthanized horses suffered from open wounds almost to the point of gangrene," Roache said, "and some had hoof problems that even with farrier care would cause them constant pain."

Sanctuary manager Janis Damiani was arrested the same day.

Even so, volunteer Roland Vincent said the horses were never ill-treated. He blamed the horses' condition on their age.

"On the average, horses at the ranch are in their early to mid-30s," said Vincent. "It's hard to keep weight on them. They have teeth issues and were getting senior feed."

On Tuesday Damiani remained in the Los Angeles County Jail after failing to post a $20,000 bond. She faces at least nine counts of animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, Roache says the horses are faring better.

"The majority will be adoptable after their rehabilitation," Roache 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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