Three malnourished horses were seized Tuesday from a Mead Valley property whose owner came under investigation for alleged mistreatment of the equines two years ago, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
Agency spokesman John Welsh said animal control officers served a seizure order at the ranch-style residence on Jean Street, near Clark Street, shortly after 10 a.m.
The location, which is roughly halfway between Riverside and Perris, has been the focus of an investigation going back to October 2016, Welsh said.
“Today marked the end of the back-and-forth, yo-yo-like tactics the owner exhibited for months,” he said.
Animal control officers had been called to the residence multiple times to examine the horses, whose rib cages were showing from lack of nourishment, according to Welsh.
He alleged that each time the owner, whose name was withheld, was informed the animals would be seized unless they were properly fed, the man would go buy oats and hay to restore them to health.
“Officers have dealt with more severe equine neglect cases in the past, but this case was an ongoing battle,” Welsh said. “The owner’s lack of consistent care and sustainable nutrition resulted in today’s seizure.”
Two mares and a gelding were removed from the property and taken to a county-run shelter. A fourth horse was included in the seizure order, but animal control officers could not locate him, possibly because the owner transported the equine preemptively, knowing the seizure was coming, Welsh said, adding that a search is underway.
According to Welsh, a post-seizure hearing will be held to determine whether the horses should be returned to the owner or placed in a rescue facility and adopted out. In the meantime, the man will be responsible for covering the cost of the animals’ care, Welsh said.
If the horses are put up for adoption, the public will be notified via social and traditional media, according to Welsh.
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