Calaveras County Animal Control Services (ACS) is in the process of rescuing roughly 60 horses, mustangs, donkeys and mules from a 50-acre enclosure in Valley Springs.

The department received a complaint from a citizen regarding “starving horses” on Aug. 26 and responded to the reported property, located on the 9000 block of Warren Road, the following day, according to ACS Director Evan Jacobs. Two mares and two foals who were deemed to be in the most critical condition were seized at that time, under the advisement of a veterinarian.

One of the emaciated mothers had to be raised onto her hooves using straps and a tractor, with the help of Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection District (Cal-Co Fire). All four horses were transported to an Angels Camp veterinary hospital to receive care, the fire district reported.

However, one of the mares was later euthanized, according to Jacobs.

Following a hearing and authorization from an administrative judge, ACS rounded up an additional seven horses on Sept. 5 and another 15 on Sept. 6, with the aid of Evacuation Teams of Amador (ETA), Cal-Co Fire, Calaveras County fairgrounds staff and the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office.

Efforts to transport the remaining horses will continue into this week.

“It has been very trying to say the least. … (The horses are) not just undersocialized, they’re somewhat wild because they haven’t had a lot of human interaction,” said Jacobs, who added that the responding agencies and volunteers have been a “tremendous help.”

A necropsy was performed on the euthanized mare in order to collect evidence as ACS pursues criminal charges with the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office, Jacobs said.

The surviving horses, which include stallions, nursing mothers and foals, are also being retained by ACS as evidence and are being cared for at an undisclosed location.

It may take several months or more to determine the next steps for the horses, Jacobs said, and ACS staff and volunteers are spread thin. With the recent seizure of 156 chickens from an illegal marijuana grow in Copperopolis, the department is currently caring for approximately 250 animals.

Donations to Friends of Calaveras Animal Services (FOCAS) and the ACS food account at Spence Ranch Feed and Supply in Angels Camp are “greatly appreciated,” Jacobs said.

Additionally, the department is in need of 17.5-gallon buckets for watering the horses and 14-qt flat-back buckets for feeding, which can be donated directly to the shelter.

For more ACS donation information, visit focasweb.com .

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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