From the Chair —
As an all-volunteer animal welfare nonprofit organization that focuses on enforcement of animal laws, 2014 was a year filled with action for the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills (HSSF) - both on the ground and in the courts. Each situation proved that with professional diligence, animal cruelty, neglect, and/or abuse can be halted, and that most animal owners will cooperate to correct unacceptable conditions once they understand the laws. However, if an owner refuses to obey a lawful correction notice, HSSF will not walk away and allow animal suffering to continue.
HSSF started the year having to appeal a wrongful hearing officer′s decision regarding HSSF′s lawful seizure of 29 horses whose owner was not properly caring for them. In the hearing officer´s conclusion she wrote, "hopefully he will have learned how to better care for them (animals) and will follow through with "thinning out" his herd…" yet she required them to be returned. When our appeal was finally heard, the judge agreed and ruled that the hearing officer had indeed made an error in the original decision (!) and that HSSF′s seizure was lawful. On a positive note, during the four months that HSSF was caring for the 29 horses, their conditions improved dramatically due to professional attention and nourishment (by the truckload!) which brought them back to normal weight.
As an aside, later this year, more complaints about these same horses′ conditions were received, and once again our HSSF Humane Officer responded. Foolishly and/or desperately, this time the perpetrator attempted a legal maneuver to stop HSSF′s authority to enforce laws that protect animals. After a number of days in court, the false allegations were dismissed, but this illustrates what HSSF has to contend with.
In 2013, after rescuing two "abandoned" Thoroughbreds, and after a year and a half of investigative work, our Humane Officer exposed a scam artist who would place his high-maintenance race horses in various boarding facilities and then stop paying. When the boarding facilities would try to collect what was owed, among other court filings, he (and wife) would declare bankruptcy. This would put all his "assets" in a legal holding pattern. Eventually, his bad-faith bankruptcy filings would not be granted, but he′d file again (as allowed), leaving the boarding facilities to literally hold the feed bag.
Finally, on November 18, the judge ruled in favor of HSSF on the motions, one of which included the purchase of 30 Thoroughbreds that the perpetrators wanted to keep. You can read more about this on our website or see "Saga of Rescuing by Purchasing 30 Horses" in this newsletter. Now begins the work of taking possession, rehabbing, and adopting out these horses. Next page