Two months after the County Department of Animal Services (DAS) impounded 10 horses from property on State Route 78 in Ramona, another 22 were seized from the same owner Monday.
DAS had been monitoring the herd belonging to Lori Patton since the original seizure May 23 to make sure the animals were getting the proper level of care. Patton had moved the horses to property on Old Julian Highway, said an animal control officer.
Animal Control Officers noted a number of horses were becoming thin and posted a notice at Patton’s property July 15 stating the animals would be seized if conditions didn’t improve. Patton requested a hearing to contest the proposed seizure. The hearing was held Friday, July 19 and the hearing officer’s decision Monday, July 22, authorized DAS to seize all the animals on the property.
A total of 22 horses and foals, four dogs and four puppies, one cat, one rabbit, one guinea pig and three mice were taken from the property in the 25000 block of Old Julian Highway between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. Monday, said Harold Holmes, deputy director of the North County region of Animal Services.
“The owner was not providing the necessary care to improve the health of the horses which left us no choice but to seize her animals and take them into protective custody,” said Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson. “The criminal investigation is continuing and we are unable to share more information at this time.”
A veterinarian has examined the horses and found they were all below the proper weight and some needed dental care, according to DAS. Treatment is under way. Holmes said the veterinarian's findings are part of the investigation and a report will be submitted to the District Attorney's office for review.
Some of the horses and all of the other animals were taken to the DAS facility in Carlsbad. The rest of the horses are being boarded at secure locations, said Holmes. Animal control officers, assisted by the San Diego Humane Society and its Animal Rescue Reserves, used six trailers to remove the animals, said Holmes. San Diego County Sheriff's deputies stood by, but Holmes said, "We did not have any difficulty with Ms. Patton at all."
As part of the administrative process, Patton has 14 days to reclaim her animals if she shows she can provide the necessary care and attention for them and if she can pay the cost of their impoundment, housing and medical care. According to Holmes that initial fee is about $14,000.
On May 20, a total of 30 horses were found on property that appeared abandoned on State Route 78 near the Pine Hill Egg Ranch by members of the Intermountain Fire and Rescue Department. Officials said the horses had no food or water. Animal control officers seized 10 of the horses from Patton a few days later, after Patton had moved the others to the Old Julian Highway location. Of those 10 horses, Holmes said one had to be euthanized and two were reclaimed by Patton after she paid the required fees. According to the county, others have been adopted.