23 Neglected Horses: When Will SPCA Get Involved?

The Central California SPCA is not acting fast enough to save 23 neglected horses living on a property in Auberry, say some concerned Central Valley residents.

The horses, some just small colts, search the ground for food, but find nothing.

Many of the horses are so skinny that their ribs and hipbones are visible.{}

Those who live near the Auberry ranch say it has been going on for months.

Jennifer Bethel, who lives nearby the ranch, said that she has noticed that the property is down to dirt.

"[The property owner] said she knows what she is doing to stay out of her business, let her handle it," Bethel said. "The fences have been cut and they are just kind of roaming now. They are on my property line and look really bad they look really skinny and have cuts from the barb wire."

So where is animal control?

In an email to KMPH News, the Central California SPCA says the organization was first made aware of the situation earlier this year, after getting a complaint from Fresno County deputies.

However, the SPCA states, "At the time, all of the horses were in good physical condition."

Neighbors say that is not true.

"We just heard that the sheriff had been called out. He was concerned. They were in pretty bad shape back then," said neighbor Katharine Van Wagenen.

The SPCA email goes onto state, "Our humane officers have continued to monitor the condition of these horses and have been making regular visits to the property in an ongoing investigation."

In addition, the organization says it is working with the horse owner on how to properly take care of the horses.

But neighbors said they have seldom seen representatives from the SPCA at the property.

Sal Ponce said he saw the SPCA out at the property for the first time on Wednesday, shortly after KMPH aired its first story on the horses.

Ponce said the SPCA was out there for, "10, 15 minutes. No more than that. He left after that."

Another neighbor says she spoke with the SPCA Wednesday afternoon with Beth Caffrey, spokesperson for the organization. The woman claims she was told the SPCA does not intend to take any of the horses off the property because they do not have the room. The woman says she was told the SPCA is already taking care of some 30 horses at their facility.

Neighbors are concerned that it will take the death of several of the horses to get SPCA officials to act.

"I can tell the difference between a healthy horse and a not healthy horse and those are not healthy, and there babies are out there," Bethel said.

KMPH News will continue to follow this investigation.