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Owner will keep horses

Despite neighbor reports of animal abuse, Animal Control officials will not seize horses from a 45-acre ranch on the 12000 block of Spenceville Road due to a lack of evidence supporting those claims.

“The horses looked the way they did for justifiable physical reasons,” said Nevada County Animal Control Sgt. Bruce Baggett Wednesday evening.

Baggett said several foals on the ranch had not been weaned from their mothers as soon as they should have been, causing many of the mares to appear gaunt.



“The foals should have been weaned long ago,” he said, “but there’s nothing illegal about it.”

He said neighbors hired by ranch owner Pam Fyffe to watch the horses over the past three months were inexperienced with the weaning process. New caretakers hired three weeks ago, he said, have made several improvements, including a better feeding regimen.




Animal Control investigators went to the property Wednesday afternoon and interviewed the caretakers.

“The caretakers are credible, and they do know what they’re doing,” Baggett said. “I was impressed with them.”

Baggett said it was neglectful of Fyffe to leave the care of her horses to neighbors for nearly three months prior to hiring the new caretakers.

“There was some neglect there, but I don’t think we’d get a conviction,” he said. “We’ll waste a whole lot less taxpayer dollars this way.”

Animal Control officers will continue to “keep tabs” on the ranch and the new caretakers to ensure the health of the horses, Baggett said. One of Fyffe’s horses put down by a veterinarian on Saturday could not have been saved, he said, and Fyffe knew of its condition.

“It had chronic kidney failure and ulcers in its mouth,” Baggett said. “Treatment had been planned.”

He said the caretakers had already scheduled an appointment with a veterinarian and had a place for the horse in a barn on Fyffe’s property when neighbors took the horse Friday night, apparently led by a person with “some clout” in the neighborhood.

Up to 30 neighbors arrived at the ranch with a trailer to take the horse, Baggett said, causing a confrontation with a male caretaker.

“The caretaker backed down,” he said.

Baggett said Fyffe is upset her neighbors called the media and took her horse, but she did not indicate she intends to press charges for theft. She does not live in the area but may move here within the next several months, Baggett said.

Neighbor Lynn Lise objects to Baggett’s assertion that the caretakers are capable of caring for the approximately 40 horses on the ranch.

“We were really hoping the horses would be seized,” Lise said. “We were hoping to teach (Fyffe) a lesson.”

To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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