Animal Control impounds 10 horses from SR-78 property in Ramona
By Karen Brainard
San Diego County of Animal Services seized 10 horses, including two foals, Thursday afternoon from property on State Route 78 east of town, where firefighters found nearly 30 horses running loose Monday.
The owner of the horses is no stranger to the county’s Department of Animal Services, according to its deputy director.
“We’ve been dealing with this woman since 2007,” said Deputy Director Dan DeSousa, who identified the horses’ owner as Lori Patton. On a website Patton says she breeds and sells Friesian sport horses.
Each of the seized horses were taken to an animal services facility and will be evaluated and checked by a veterinarian, said Harold Holmes, deputy director of the North County region of Animal Services.
“None of the animals is currently in danger to our knowledge,” he said, adding that he could not go into details because of potential for a criminal case.
According to Holmes, Patton disclosed that a horse died recently and she had a service remove it. Department of Animal Services said it is investigating the death.
Intermountain Fire & Rescue Department Chief Jeremy Christofferson discovered the horses on Monday afternoon, May 20, when he saw two horses running on Route 78 as he was heading to the station. He called for help, and when firefighters arrived they found more horses roaming the property that is west of Old Julian Highway.
In all, they found about 30 horses, most of them out of the corrals. The fire chief said the horses had no food or water, were “bone-dry,” and it appeared they had knocked down the sides of their corrals to get out.
California Highway Patrol officers arrived, and Officer Joe Nielsen said when he checked the house on the property he found it was cleared out.
A woman, who declined to give her name, called the Sentinel on Wednesday and said she had not abandoned the horses but was renting the property and was in the process of moving to Arizona. She said the horses had automatic waterers, and she was feeding them twice a day and would be moving them.
The property management company for that location said it had given notice to the renter to vacate.
Holmes said animal control posted a notice on the property Monday that the owner had two days to comply with proper care for the horses.
According to DeSousa, when animal control officers went to the site on Tuesday, they found nine of the horses had been removed and there were about 25 bales of alfalfa. He described the horses’ flesh as adequate to moderate and said some of the horses had slight ribbing.
“The horses do have issues with their hooves,” he added.
DeSousa said the department gets about one complaint a year regarding Patton and lack of care for her horses, but every time officials have met with her, she eventually complies.
“The care has not been so egregious, so lacking for us to seize,” he said.
According to Holmes, animal control went back to the property on Thursday to check on the welfare of the horses and there were 10 left.
“She had already moved the rest of the horses to a new location,” noted Holmes.
Based on what they saw, animal control officers felt the horses should be impounded, he said.
“Not all issues had been sufficiently resolved,” he said.
While there, Patton arrived and officers gave her notice of the impoundment, said Holmes.
Holmes said on Friday that an animal control officer met with Patton at another location in Ramona where she had moved the other horses, but the officer had not seen anything of an egregious nature to justify a seizure.
To make sure the horses are cared for properly, Holmes said, “We will be working very closely with Ms. Patton, very frequently.”
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