Animal Services workers rescued 31 horses, three llamas, four miniature cattle, five geese and one dog from a San Diego County property over the weekend.
"You can see every rib on her," said Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa, talking about one of the mares. "Her spine is very very pronounced, her hip bones are very easily visible."
The animals were taken from a Valley Center property in the 28300 block of Hell Creek Road on Saturday.
County officials say they've known about this livestock owner for years and have tried to ask the person to properly care for the animals. Workers even posted a warning on Aug. 16, giving the owner a chance to request a hearing to contest the animals’ seizure.
When no hearing request was filed, the county agency obtained a search warrant to rescue to the animals, according to the county.
Several horses were found to be very underweight, large animal veterinarians say, and one was pregnant. But the worst damage was done to their hooves.
“The primary issue with the majority of the livestock was a lack of hoof care,” said DeSousa. “Although easy to remedy, prolonged lack of hoof care in livestock is a painful condition that can lead to permanent and severe damage.”
The 31 horses have been taken to the county’s animal care facility in Bonita. The rest of the rescued animals are at a private ranch or the county’s Carlsbad location.
"They've all been getting excellent care, excellent food for the past couple days," said DeSousa, "but it's going to take weeks and weeks -- if not months -- to get these horses back up to weight."
The owner of the animals is not facing charges at this time. DeSousa says they are waiting for the equine veterinarian to finish examining each horse, and once that information is in hand, they will decide if charges will be filed.
A number of agencies helped in the rescue effort, including the volunteer Animal Response Team, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.