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Horses Mired in Feeding Controversy Add Member

By Vanessa Turner

A baby horse has joined the group of horses on Highway 49 near San Andreas whose questionable health prompted residents to call authorities earlier this year.

And after monitoring the horses for the last few months to ensure a veterinarian ordered feeding regimen is being followed, Calaveras County Animal Control officer Mike Gillespie said this week the owner is “doing the best they can.”

Jenna Davis, 31, of Stockton, who bought the horses in 2004 from Bay Meadows Race Track in San Mateo, is having a good Samaritan feed the horses.

“The horses are being fed probably enough to sustain them,” Gillespie said.

With the grass growing, the horses will be able to graze soon and that will be good, he added.

Monitoring the horses is tricky work, Gillespie said, since they are not always visible. He estimates he checks on them about three times a week.

Since the vet said the horses are not in any immediate danger, the county is limited to what enforcement it can do.

“There´s a reasonable amount of care being administered,” Gillespie said. “I know they don´t look the best, but I´ve seen a lot worse. … We can´t force Mrs. Davis to do it.”

“As long as the horses continue to show slight improvement, we´re happy,” Agriculture Commissioner Jerry Howard said. “They´re a little better off than they were then when we first had the round of complaints.”

“There are consequences if Davis doesn´t (feed the horses),” Gillespie said.

If the situation stays the same, it would have to go before a restitution hearing which the county would conduct with an out of county administrator, he said.

“I know folks don´t like what they see but we´re working within the parameters of the law,” Gillespie said.

Still, residents who first reported the problem aren´t satisfied that enough is being done.

“As time passes, I do believe that the ball has been dropped,” Trish Baugus, who first reported the problem, said. In a letter to the Enterprise dated March 18, Baugus said, “Over the past two weeks the feed has been less than intermittent.”

Howard said the county would continue to monitor the situation and in particular the mare who just gave birth.

“If she´s not getting some extra feed here and there, the colt could draw her down,” he said.

Contact Vanessa Turner at vturner@calaverasenterprise.com.