Californian Facing Multiple Animal Cruelty Charges

A California man is facing multiple felony animal cruelty charges in connection with the alleged neglect of 32 horses and a donkey on his leased San Bernardino County property.

Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA investigator Beth Les said that on Dec. 2, agency personnel discovered the animals after receiving a call about their condition from a tipster. The herd--which consisted of stallions, geldings, mares and foals--were residing at the back of former dairy farm property leased by Joe Adriano Meneses Avila. All were being fed a diet of rotten fruit and vegetables, Les said.

At the time of their seizure, all the horses were in various stages of emaciation and malnutrition, Les said. In addition, the horses also had abscesses on protruding hip bones, and leg and other wounds as a result of having to compete for food. A donkey acquired shortly before the seizure was in the best condition, she said.

One horse died immediately after the seizure and another was euthanized by a veterinarian the following day, Les said. Since the seizure another six horses were euthanized due to their condition, she said. All the surviving animals are now under a veterinarian's rehabilitative care.

Avila was later charged with 9 counts of felony animal cruelty in connection with the seizure, Les said. Avila was unavailable for comment.

Les said that Avila purchased the animals from auctions and leased them for use in Mexican rodeo events. The practice is common, she said.

"It happens all the time around here," Les said. "I know there are other horses like this, but I just haven't found them yet."

Meanwhile Avila is slated to be arraigned on the charges on Feb. 2 in Bernardino County Superior Court, Les 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.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More