Animal Control impounds 10 horses from SR-78 property in Ramona

Animal control officers work on gathering horses to load them into trailers and transport them off the Route 78 property. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Animal control officers work on gathering horses to load them into trailers and transport them off the Route 78 property. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

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.

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A horse stands as animal control officers try to gather other horses. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

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.

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An animal control officer watches as some of the horses eat in the corral. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

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.

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