April 18, 2013
Kimberly Rivers, OVN correspondent
Two horses have been rescued from a field across from Summit Elementary School in Upper Ojai by the Humane Society of Ventura County (HSVC) and are currently being treated at Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) in Camarillo.
According to Officer John Brockus, director of investigations at HSVC, the Ojai shelter received several calls April 12. Two officers responded, but declined to comment at the scene, other than to say they would begin an investigation. As of press time, officials have been unable to establish ownership of the horses who were left without access to food and water.
“We expected Ventura County Animal Services to (retrieve) the horses on Friday,” said Brockus. “But on Saturday we received word that they did not have enough staff to get them.” So Brockus picked them up Saturday. A veterinarian determined the dark bay Arabian stallion was 350 pounds underweight and the chestnut part quarter-horse mare was 400 pounds underweight. The mare was treated for an infection in both eyes. The pair were cared for at HSVC’s Ojai shelter until Monday, when they were picked up by VCAS and transported to the Camarillo facility.
“We contacted the property owners, and the horses were abandoned on the property,” said Brockus. “We were unable to establish ownership.”
He indicated that he would be interested in any information members of the public may have.
There are reports from Upper Ojai residents that conflict with the findings of the Humane Society investigation.
“There is not a doubt in my mind that those horses have been in that field since last summer,” said Sara Barnes, a horse owner in Upper Ojai. “There was a third grey horse that is gone now. We reported them last summer to the Humane Society and we were told that they couldn’t do anything because the horses were not contained.”
Last Friday, the horses were at the fence along Highway 150, easily visible and easier for the officer to catch.
“They are doing very well,” said Officer Pat Bryan with VCAS Wednesday. “They are eating and drinking.”
Brockus has spoken with the real estate agent for the property which has been for sale for more than a year. According to Brockus, the agent was confident that if the horses had been there, they would have been seen during the numerous visits and tours made to the property. The agent also confirmed that there is no water on the property.
Brockus noted that the Humane Society received one call in February 2012 regarding horses in the same field, but officers were unable to locate any despite several visits. He said he is confident that these horses were recently put in the field and at this time is unable to further work the case since they are unable to establish ownership.
Brockus added that he receives about one call a week of horses being abandoned. Folks will be out on a trail ride and come back to find a horse tied to their trailer.
“If someone is having a hard time providing for their horses they can contact the Humane Society and ask for help,” said Brockus. “Call us for help, we don’t want anyone to abandon animals. We can help find a rescue.” He said that someone who asks for help would not be charged. “Unless (they wait too long) and the horses are skin and bones and almost dead, then I will arrest them,” said Brockus.
For information about making donations to help in the care of the two horses, or to inquire about adoption, contact Ventura County Animal Control at 388-4341.
Anyone with information about the rescued horses should contact the Humane Society at 646-6505.