Eight animal cruelty counts filed in Nevada County horse case
The Nevada County District Attorney’s office has filed eight felony counts of animal cruelty in a case where Animal Control seized 41 semi-wild horses from where they were being illegally pastured in January.
Frederick Wayne Atkinson, of Nevada City, is set to be arraigned on April 20.
The horses originally had been in Yuba County and that county’s Animal Control had been monitoring the situation as far back as October 2014; they reportedly were moved to Nevada County in mid-December.
On Jan. 4, Nevada County Animal Control was alerted to conduct a welfare check on the horses, which were on a ranch in the 22000 block of Swenson Ravine.
The owner of the property, who does not live onsite, had been asked by a caretaker if another person could place a dozen horses on the property, and she agreed.
The neighbors soon began calling to complain that the horses were breaking out and causing damage.
Animal Control officers conducted a check and spoke with the property owner, then called out a veterinarian.
Five horses reportedly were in very poor condition, five in poor condition and another five were in under-average condition.
Many of the horses reportedly had other issues, such as injuries from bites and kicks, and mares as young as 2 years old were pregnant due to the fact that only one of the stallions had been gelded.
Nevada County Animal Control officers reportedly located Atkinson and explained he needed to provide a minimum amount of feed, and conducted follow-up to ensure compliance.
A little later that week, Grass Valley Animal Control was called out to Atkinson’s house on Gold Flat Road in Nevada City, and reportedly found a horse on the property that had foundered and had to be euthanized.
Officers doing follow-up saw a hole dug in the backyard with a horse inside that was deceased. Atkinson reportedly told them it had come from the Swenson Ravine property and that he had transported it to his residence in Nevada City to bury it.
The deceased horse was sent to UC Davis for a necropsy; preliminary results reportedly showed fractures and injuries.
Atkinson eventually released the horses to Sammie’s Friends animal shelter. In mid-January, a massive effort involving dozens of volunteers rounded up the horses and transported the majority to Horses Plus Humane in Bangor.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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