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Remains Discovered at Winchester Property

Riverside County Animal Services served a search warrant at a property in Winchester today where the remains of three horses were discovered.

The property on Van Gaale Lane, just east of Winchester Road, is one familiar with Animal Services officers. The owner of the horses was not complying with recommendations by officers for proper care and nutrition for the horses. The owner failed to work with the department and so a search warrant was obtained.

Animal Services Lt. John Stephens and Sgt. Lesley Huennekens served the search warrant this morning. The officers discovered the remains of three horses. The horses will be transported to a state lab and necropsies will be performed to determine a cause of death.

Sgt. Huennekens described the bodies of the horses as emaciated. Two of the three were a specialized breed called Pony of the Americas. One of the ponies was a mare and the other a gelding. The third horse, a gelding, was an unknown breed.

The officers also checked the property for any livestock feed. Sgt. Huennekens said there wasn’t any proper feed for horses at the property.

It’s been an ongoing struggle for Animal Services in trying to work with the owner of the horses, a woman. The department’s officers offered many times to assist the woman by transferring the horses to a reputable equine rescue organization. Each offer was declined.

“It’s been more than two years of this,” Sgt. Huennekens said. “And there were always different horses each time we attempted to visit.”

The recent discussions with the woman, who refused entry to the officers for proper inspection, led to the search warrant.

“The conditions of the horses and the barn where they were being kept were deplorable,” Sgt. Huennekens said.

The case remains an open investigation.

Senior Victim Suffered Wounds to Her Neck Area

Two dogs attacked a woman early Sunday in Riverside’s La Sierra area.

The 77-year-old victim suffered wounds to her neck and hip after the attack in a neighborhood just northwest of the La Sierra University campus. Just after 8 a.m., while on her morning walk, the dogs charged her. She was pinned against a fence near the intersection of College and Norwood avenues.

Riverside County Animal Services officers responded after receiving a call from the Riverside Police Department. Officer Kellsey Hoesman attempted to locate the loose dogs but was unable to find them. They had been described as two large dogs, one that was black and the other tan.

The victim was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. The victim’s injuries were severe, but she was expected to recover from the wounds. She was treated and released Sunday afternoon.

Officer John Hergenreder and Officer Mike Cox assisted Officer Hoesman in trying to find the two dogs. A tip led the officers to a property with a long driveway in the 11,000 block of Norwood Avenue. A black Cane Corso, loose within its fenced backyard, barked at the officers upon their arrival. A tan Cane Corso was also in the yard, located inside a kennel with six puppies.

An owner of the dogs came out to speak with the officers and told them that her dogs do not get loose. However, the officers observed – and photographed – what appeared to be fresh blood spots on the dog owner’s driveway. Later, the officers showed images of the dogs to the victim and she positively identified the dogs as the ones that attacked her.

Officers impounded a 1-year-old, male Cane Corso that was intact. A female Cane Corso, approximately 3 years old, was also impounded with her six, 4-week-old puppies so she could continue nursing. The dogs are being cared for at the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley. The dogs did not have current licenses on file with Riverside County Animal Services.

A public hearing will be scheduled to determine if the dogs meet the criteria as vicious animals and must be relinquished to Animal Services for humane euthanasia or released to the owner with mandated corrective measures. Such measures may require that the dogs are always kenneled at the property and the owner must use a muzzle when walking the dogs. Also, the owner would be required to get liability insurance.

Officers Remove Skinny Horses from Mead Valley

Animal control officers seized three neglected horses from a Mead Valley property today.

A neglect case had been ongoing, dating to October 2016. Each time Riverside County Animal Services’officers told the owner a seizure was imminent, the owner would finally buy new food for the skinny animals.

Today marked the end of the back-and-forth, yo-yo-like tactics the owner exhibited for months. Two of the horses are paints and the third, a chestnut. Two are mares and one is a gelding. The ages of the horses are unknown at this time.

A fourth neglected horse had been removed without the knowledge of Animal Services. A search for that horse was attempted, but remains ongoing.

The officers have dealt with more severe equine neglect cases in the past, but the Jean Street case was an ongoing battle. The owner’s lack of consistent care and sustainable nutrition resulted in today’s seizure.

Lt. James Huffman of Animal Services led a team at about 10:30 a.m. to the property, located on Jean Street in unincorporated Riverside County, near Perris. A search warrant was going to be pursued by Lt. Huffman, but the owner said that the warrant was not necessary and granted permission onto the property. He ultimately relinquished the animals to Animal Services’ custody.

The horses will remain in the county’s care until a post-seizure hearing is held. The owner will still be responsible for the food and care of the horses. He could get the horses back if he believes the animals were taken without due process.

If the man does not fight to get the horses back, the animals will eventually be put up for adoption or transferred to one of Animal Services’ rescue partner organizations. A follow-up news release will alert the public if and when an adoption date will occur.

Young Appaloosa Transported, Cared for by Vet

A suspected drunken driver slammed into the back of a horse trailer traveling on Interstate 10 early Saturday morning (Sept. 8) in the Cabazon area.

The crash happened at about 2:30 a.m. near the Main Street exit in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 10. A woman suspected of driving under the influence crashed into the trailer at a speed of about 80 mph to 90 mph, according to information provided to Riverside County Animal Services’ responding officer.

Its impact was so violent that one of two horses inside the trailer got loose from its halter and spilled out the mangled back doors. The crash caused severe injuries to that horse.

“It is my understanding that the suspected drunken driver hit the trailer with enough force that the horse slipped out of its halter,” said Animal Services Sgt. Lesley Huennekens, the responding officer. “That was the power of the impact. Imagine a slingshot with an 800-pound animal.”

She said the horse, a young, male Appaloosa named Oliver, was forced forward and then backwards so fast that it fell out the back. For a few minutes, the horse was running loose on I-10, but the transport driver was able to wrangle it. The California Highway Patrol responded with three units.

“All of its injuries were likely caused by the falling out of the mangled doors,” Sgt. Huennekens said. “Its sheer luck that this horse survived.”

The horse trailer was being towed by a man transporting the two horses from Winchester to Texas. He was not believed to have suffered serious injuries. The second horse, also, did not appear seriously injured. However, the trailer was no longer usable.

The suspected drunken driver was transported to an area hospital for treatment. It was unknown later on Saturday whether she had been arrested or booked on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Sgt. Huennekens immediately contacted an emergency equine veterinarian and transported the horse to the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus for treatment. The veterinarian, Dr. Celeste Spini of the Temecula Creek Equine, examined the horse and provided the patient with fluids and critical treatment to give Oliver a chance at survival.

“I must also give credit to the driver,” Sgt. Huennekens said. “He applied a makeshift tourniquet on the horse’s right hind leg where it was seriously bleeding. The tourniquet appeared to be a belt and a plastic peg of some short. Had he not done that, I don’t think we would have had as good of a result.”

Contact a Shelter

Western Riverside: (951) 358-7387 (PETS)
San Jacinto: (951) 358-7387
Coachella Valley: (760) 343-3644
Blythe: (760) 921-7857

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