An animal welfare investigation rescued 30 horses on Monday from a property in an unincorporated area of Riverbank.
“I can tell you the animals were in really bad shape,” said Annette Bedsworth, executive director of Stanislaus County Animal Services.
She said horses generally suffer from inadequate nutrition and care. Authorities determined that two horses had been stolen and that several of them could have been stolen from their real owners, Bedsworth said.
Oakdale Equine Rescue helped authorities rescue the horses and move them in trailers to the association’s facilities. The rescue operation overseen by county animal services began around noon Monday and continued for hours into the night.
Most horses are pregnant or are mares with suckling foals. Some of the pregnant horses are expected to give birth soon, the rescue organization said.
Jeannine Etheridge, president of Oakdale Equine Rescue, said some of the horses are emaciated and require veterinary care. Arrangements have been made for Sweet River Equine Hospital to care for some of the animals.
Authorities have not disclosed full details due to the ongoing investigation. County animal services, the sheriff’s department and the district attorney are involved in the investigation.
Bedsworth said it appeared a woman was raising valuable horses on the Riverbank property. The investigation is looking for other places where the woman could have kept additional horses. The woman’s name has not been released by authorities.
Bedsworth said there should be enough evidence for a negligence charge. Other charges are also envisaged.
“It was pointless. It didn’t have to happen, ”she said.
An account on a GoFundme page for the effort gives an unconfirmed account of legal and business disputes involving the woman who raised the horses near Riverbank. He claims the woman was in possession of 60 to 80 horsepower.
Etheridge said the nonprofit group had saved 690 abused or neglected horses since its inception in 2010.
She said 30 horses is a lot for a single rescue. Housing animals is expensive. Each can eat 1 1/2 bales of hay per day, costing $ 20 per bale or a total of $ 900 per day for 30 horses.
Some horses will give birth soon.
Etheridge said people had called to claim their horse had been stolen and to ask how they could get it back. The rescue said it could not track calls and texts all the time.
An article posted on the Oakdale Equine Rescue Facebook provides instructions for people who believe they own one of the horses. They are requested to send their name and contact details to [email protected] Provide detailed information on how the horse went missing, along with photos, registration papers, tattoos, or markings to prove ownership.
Rescue personnel require patience while things turn around. Stanislaus County authorities are also seeking information on horses that may have been stolen. Information and documentation can be sent to [email protected]
The rescue organization decided it was better to raise money to feed the horses instead of accepting donated hay bales. Monetary donations can be made at oakdaleequinerescue.org, which has a donation button.
For those who wish to help with veterinary costs, the rescue organization has an account at Sweet River Equine Hospital. Call (209) 524-9191.
Bedsworth said County Animal Services had worked with Oakdale Equine Rescue for years. “They have a great reputation,” she said.