Case Snapshot
Case ID: 11869
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse
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Saturday, Jul 28, 2007

County: Colusa

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: John B. Allen, Jr.

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

A horse is in critical condition and another was found dead in an incident of alleged animal abuse that a Colusa County investigator called one of the worst she's seen.

The living horse was seized from a field near River and Laux roads north of the city of Colusa at around 8 p.m. Friday by Pamela Craig, an investigator for the Colusa County District Attorney's Office. The Sacramento Rural Fire Department and citizen volunteers assisted in the seizure.

The horses were suspected to have suffered from severe malnutrition and dehydration, Craig said Saturday. The field that the horses were in was grazed down with very little grass left.

"They were very, very skinny," Craig said.

Craig also noted that the horses did not have any drinking water. On average, a horse needs at least a gallon of water for every 100 pounds of bodyweight per day.

The horses may have been without water for a week or more, Craig said.

Colusa County was the location of another prominent incident of horse abuse in 2004. Investigators seized a horse corralled in College City that had a severe fly infestation and untrimmed hooves that had grown to more than six inches long, making it difficult for the horse to walk.

The horse ultimately had to be put down. The owner, Sally Keaton of Dunnigan, pleaded guilty to felony animal abuse and neglect charges.

No charges have been filed against the owner of the horses, whose name was not released, but Craig said the investigation is ongoing. The owner arrived on scene as the horses were being seized.

"Second to (the Keaton case), it's the worst I've seen, especially with the animal dying, " Craig said.

The living horse has been treated by an equine veterinarian and is currently at an undisclosed location.

Case Updates

Can a horse owner escape an animal cruelty conviction if his animal dies " while he's 2,000 miles away?

That question was the battleground in a Colusa court Tuesday as 12 jurors and Judge S. William Abel considered the two felony cruelty charges against John B. Allen Jr.

Prosecutors accuse him of neglecting his two horses for more than three weeks last July without enough water, leaving one to die and the other, gravely weakened, in county care.

Jurors left Superior Court without reaching a verdict in the three-week trial. Deliberations are to resume at 9 a.m. today.

The trial stemmed from the July 27 discovery of a dead 16-year-old brown named Justin on Allen's property near River and Laux Roads north of Colusa.

Also seized was Gal, a 18-year-old female American paint, which county investigators described as emaciated and weakened after enduring temperatures over 100 degrees.

Despite checking on the animals only twice in seven weeks " the last time on July 5 " their owner said he tried to assure their water supply while he made plans that included two weeks at an air show in Oshkosh, Wis.

"I didn't need to (check further); they should have been fine," Allen said under cross-examination from District Attorney John R. Poyner. "They should've been OK for two weeks."

But for Allen and his animals, things unraveled. He testified that his teenage son failed to properly follow instructions to check on the horses and their water supply, and that poor cell phone reception at a Wisconsin airplane show he attended for two weeks further hampered his efforts to keep in touch with matters at home.

Then, sometime in July, a water pump on Allen's property failed, eventually leaving the horses unable to drink from their troughs.

"There's a lot of things I could have done, but I didn't think the water was going to stop," Allen testified.

Allen's defense attorney, Dave Weiner, attacked the county for rushing to judgment about how Justin died and exaggerating Gal's poor health.

The surviving horse, Weiner said, suffered more harm from county workers giving it excessive water after seizing it. He also suggested that Justin may have succumbed to West Nile virus or eating toxic plants, and accused the county of blocking him from doing a necropsy on the dead animal.

"Not only is this horse not emaciated," he said, showing photographs of Gal, "it's in the same condition it's been for years: an athletic working animal."

Poyner, unmoved, said the prosecution had no duty to produce the surviving horse and called Allen's treatment of the animals callous on its face.

"He didn't even check on the horses for 22 days " and it was up to 106 degrees on some of those days," he said.
Source: Appeal Democrat - June 18, 2008
Update posted on Jun 18, 2008 - 2:35PM 
A Colusa County judge has denied a defense motion to have felony animal cruelty charges against a Sutter Creek attorney reduced to misdemeanors.

John B. Allen Jr. is charged with two felony counts of animal cruelty stemming from two malnourished and dehydrated horses, one of them deceased, that were discovered July 27 on property near River and Laux roads. Allen was identified as the owner of the animals.

In denying the motion following Allen's preliminary hearing, Judge John H. Tiernan compared the crime to leaving children unattended, only worse because animals are even more dependent on humans for their care.

Allen will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Dec. 10 in Colusa County Superior Court.

Pamela Craig, a Colusa district attorney investigator, said the deceased horse, a 16-year old brown, was reportedly seen alive about one hour prior to the arrival of investigators.

The animal's mouth, nose, and tongue were dry and a "skin fold test" indicated dehydration and/or starvation. The deceased horse appeared emaciated and was observed to have protruding ribs and hips, Craig said.

The other horse, an 18-year-old female American paint, was seized by the DA's office, and placed in the custody of a Mid-Valley equine veterinary technician. It has been responding well to treatment, officials said.

Allen told investigators the horses had about 300 gallons of water when he last checked them 22 days earlier on July 5, prior to his leaving town. The DA's office reports that July temperatures ranged from the high 90s to more than 100 degrees.
Source: Appeal Democrat - Nov 24, 2007
Update posted on Nov 27, 2007 - 1:50AM 
Felony animal cruelty charges were filed Friday in Colusa County Superior Court against the owner of two malnourished and dehydrated horses. One animal died in a local field.

"I've got two horses with dehydration and one's dead," said District Attorney John R. Poyner. "If that's not animal abuse, I don't know what is."

The criminal complaint was filed against John B. Allen Jr. of Sutter Creek in Amador County.

The living horse was seized from a field near River and Laux roads north of the Colusa city limits July 27 by the Sacramento Rural Fire Department, citizen volunteers and District Attorney's Office Investigator Pamela Craig.

The field the horses were in contained very little grass for them to eat. The animals were without water for an unknown amount of time, a press release from the District Attorney's Office said.

Allen told investigators that no one had checked on the horses since July 5 22 days before the horses were seized.

He also told investigators he had included checking on the horses on a list of things for his son to do while he was out of town which he had left with his secretary, the District Attorney's Office said.

Allen said either the secretary never gave the list to his son or his son never came to get the list to his secretary.

Allen will receive a booking letter and a notice to appear, Poyner said. No date has been determined for his first court appearance.

"I just look forward to trying him," Poyner said.

"To have a horse die from dehydration I can't imagine the suffering that horse went through," he said.
Source: Appeal Democrat - Aug 4, 2007
Update posted on Aug 6, 2007 - 8:33AM 


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