Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By Misty Volaski
The four emaciated horses rescued from an Oak View ranch last week appear to be doing better after a week of care at the Humane Society of Ventura County’s Ojai shelter.
“They’re getting feisty at feeding time!” said shelter director Jolene Hoffman. “Just watching their attitudes — instead of standing with their heads down, too weak to even walk, when Becky (Holder, kennel manager) walks in with their feed, they about mow her over!”
The animals are being fed specific amounts five times every day. “We really have to monitor them when they’re not used to ingesting the proper amount of food,” Hoffman pointed out. She hasn’t done any official measuring, but “To me, it looks like they have gained a little bit of weight.”
Still, it’s a long process to get the animals back to full health — between nine and 12 months, according to Hoffman. Irreversible long-term problems can plague animals who have been deprived of adequate food and care, she added. “But, so far, so good. There’s no major health problems.”
She thanked numerous donors who have contributed to help care for the animals, from those who have donated a few dollars here and there to the Lyon family, who gave “a significant amount.” Others have given items, including fly spray, special soaps, dewormers and gift certificates to local feed stores.
After reading about the horses last week, Ojai resident Faryn Kapala issued a call to action on multiple Facebook pages, asking people to donate toward the purchase of hay for the animals. “That was my goal … to make it simple for anyone to just pick up the phone, call and donate.”
According to Ventura Hay Company owner Noreda Seymour, Kapala’s efforts resulted in about a dozen donations. “And about 10 more people came in and bought things and took it there (to the shelter) themselves,” said Seymour. “Everybody’s really pulled together nicely.”
Kapala agreed. “I’m proud to be the member of a community that responds so well to something like this!”
Hoffman said the horses need all the help they can get. “We’ve got a long way to go,” she said. “There’s so much work to do for our staff. They’re an incredible group of people, they are the true heroes.”
She said it’s not only physical work for her team; it’s emotional work. “You just think, ‘How can people do this?’ It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve seen this over and over again, it still really takes a toll on you.”
Humane officers are still not releasing the name of the ranch — which is reportedly a boarding facility — nor the names of the owners of the impounded horses. “We have to be very careful what we say,” Hoffman explained. “We don’t want to jeopardize the case at all.”
Humane officers are still gathering evidence and conducting interviews. “This is all very typical,” she said. Humane officers will put together their evidence and turn it in to the Ventura County District Attorney, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward with criminal proceedings against the horse owners and possibly the ranch owners, as well.
“I can’t see this not going any farther,” Hoffman said. “I have no doubt that somebody is going to be charged for the cruelty … but everybody reads them (the laws) in a different way. Hopefully it’ll be at least four felony charges, but again, it’s up to the D.A.”
To report possible abuse of animals or to find out how to donate to help the rescued horses, contact the Humane Society at www.humanesocietyvc.org or 646-6505.