OJAI, California – The Humane Society of Ventura County has resolved the last of three legal cases involving animal neglect from one property in Camarillo.
The cases date back to Oct. 17, 2018, when Humane Officer Kendra Winwood and HSVC staff responded to a call of neglected horses at a rural property in Camarillo. A concerned citizen had provided evidence of what appeared to be severely emaciated horses in deplorable conditions.
Winwood met with veterinarian Marta Granstedt at the property for an initial assessment, and it became clear that at least two horses were in immediate need of rescue. “It is only under exigent circumstances that we seize an animal from their home the day we arrive,” Winwood said. “We knew right away that this was going to be bad and the vet confirmed: ‘Rescue them today.’”
The next day, two additional horses kept in an adjacent stall were also impounded. A fifth horse was impounded less than two weeks later.
Three individuals owned the five horses, and all three cases were sent to the Ventura County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
Upon seizure, the horses were transported to the HSVC in Ojai, where they received extensive care by shelter staff, an on-call veterinarian and a farrier. Two of the horses are currently available for adoption and another two will be available soon. The fifth horse, a senior miniature mare, sadly died due to chronic health issues that persisted in the care of a local rescuer who had graciously adopted her.
The three defendants – Juan Carlos Flores Ortiz, Felipe De Jesus Flores Avila and Marco Antonio Cerda Escobar – pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, which resulted in misdemeanor convictions. All three defendants received jail time, were fined, cannot own or possess an animal for five years, must participate in the Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum (BARC), an online animal cruelty prevention and education course, and will likely be court-ordered to pay restitution fees to the HSVC to cover the costs of the horses’ care.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for these horses,” said HSVC Senior Humane Officer Tracy Vail, who has investigated the cases. “Ultimately what we want is for the humane treatment of all animals, and it was immediately clear that these animals needed help.”
The HSVC has incurred $17,640.60 in expenses for the care of the horses from the time of seizure until the conclusion of the court cases. Restitution fees include board and care as well as veterinarian and farrier services.
“Justice has been served,” HSVC Shelter Director Jolene Hoffman, said, adding, “I am proud of the HSVC staff for their dedication, and our Shelter will continue to provide a high level of service to the people and oversight for animals in need throughout Ventura County.”
The HSVC is the only agency in Ventura County that employs humane officers, who receive extensive training in animal husbandry and the investigation of animal cruelty and neglect cases. Officers uphold California state laws regarding health and safety codes and many other laws that pertain to abuse, neglect and cruelty to animals.
If you witness or suspect any instances of abuse or neglect in the Ventura County area, please notify HSVC investigators at 805-656-5031 or 805-646-6505. All information is kept confidential.