2 More Neglected Horses Taken in at Breeder's Ranch

A total of 4 horses receiving emergency care after Marin Humane Society investigation at rural Chileno Valley farm.


Two more neglected horses are receiving emergency care after being taken away from property owned by a West Marin breeder, bringing to four the number of confiscated horses, according to the Marin Humane Society.

Animal services officers found unsafe living conditions for horses at the breeder's ranch on Dec. 27 and took in two horses, then confiscated two more over on Jan. 4, said Carrie Harrington, spokeswoman for the Marin Humane Society.

Harrington confirmed that the ranch being investigated is Gray Fox Farms, a remote hilltop property with a Petaluma address. It is in unincorporated Chileno Valley area northwest of Novato and west of downtown Petaluma.

The society's animal services division officers found "serious neglect, injuries, unsafe and inhumane living conditions for horses living on the property" during a visit on Dec. 27. One injured stallion was seized and was under 24-hour medical observation at an offsite location, Harrington said. Another impounded horse, a malnourished mare, is also receiving rehabilitative care, she said.

As of last week, the animal control officers were monitoring more than two dozen horses on the property ranging from foals, pregnant mares and stallions. Last weekend, two mares were taken from the property to an off-site rehabilitation center because they were "thin and suffering from neglect," Harrington said.

The stallion taken away on Dec. 27 had undisclosed injuries in addition to signs of neglect she said.

Several tips from the public have come in about the case, Harrington said. "Any sort of information we've heard has reinforced what our investigators have found," she said.

On a website called the Chronicle of the Horse, Megan Brincks wrote that Gray Fox Farm is run by Jill Burnell, according to her attorney, Margaret Weems. Burnell, with her husband, Alex, has run the breeding business for the past few months and ships semen to clients.

The Burnells will file a request in court for the return of the horses and ask for an injunction prohibiting the Marin Humane Society from "harassing" the Burnells, Weems told Brincks.

Bob Dougherty of Nicasio, who has been breeding horses for more than 50 years, said he had not heard any details from this neglect case but said more and more breeders are struggling in this economy.

"Usually things like this happen because they're out of money," said Dougherty, former president of the Golden Gate Arabian Horse Association. "It's a worse situation up in Sonoma County than it is here (in Marin) as far as abandoned horses."

Dougherty said he heard a recent case of a veterinarian and his wife who took their horses out to Point Reyes for a ride and returned to their trailer to find that two other horses had been placed in the trailer, abandoned by the owners.

"The impression is that it happening more now," said. Dr. Michelle Beko, a veterinarian with the Sonoma County Horse Council. "Certainly there are more people having trouble trying to feed their horses or trying to find them a new home."

Donations are being sought to cover expenses for medical treatment. People with knowledge of horse care can volunteer to assist in the care of the malnourished horses, the society said.

Also, Leg-Up Equestrian Assistance is operating an online auction that features the stallions from other famous breeders. Bidding is open and people can make monetary donations on the site that will aid the Marin Humane Society's efforts.

Anyone with information about horse neglect, including this case, is encouraged to contact investigators at 415-506-6209.

Lisa Kay January 08, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Jill Burnell is a disgrace to reputable horsemen, and women, everywhere. It's about time her neglect finally becomes public knowledge. Good luck collecting your fees Ms. Weems
C. Cockcroft January 08, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Brent should do his homework and report that Ms. Burnell is a crook and a menace to horses. Hopefully she will end up behind bars for her deeds against unsuspecting horse lovers and for starving and neglecting her horses. She should be ashamed!!
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 08, 2013 at 04:04 AM
If this is true.Why are the cops letting most horses stay at the ranch?
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 08, 2013 at 04:07 AM
Brent Ainsworth Does a great job in the patch. If you have info on the "suspect" please share.
Louise Gordon January 08, 2013 at 04:54 AM
The suspects former residence and its conditions. http://www.flickr.com/photos/51498400@N03/sets/72157631063762854/
C. Cockcroft January 08, 2013 at 05:08 AM
As a life long horse owner, the fact that a single horse was removed for neglect is unconscionable!
RJS January 08, 2013 at 05:24 AM
JSFLA January 08, 2013 at 05:25 AM
RJS January 08, 2013 at 06:27 AM
The photo you have posted is the wrong property and is not recent.
DRA January 08, 2013 at 04:21 PM
No that is at least the front of the property, I have seen it. And if you blow up the picture with dog feces on the papers those are the papers for some of her foals.
Bonnie Leslie January 08, 2013 at 04:49 PM
RJS is correct, those are old pictures of her old ranch, the picture with the horses in the paddock...where the paddock ends and the ranch in the back ground begins is friends of mine ranch, I have been to her old place enough to tell you those are old pictures.
Maggie January 08, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Why are people breeding animals if the economy is so bad they cannot care for them. Sickening! Breeding is just wrong when there are so many horses in need of homes!
Karina Ioffee January 08, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Apologies. We will remove the picture.
Leaf January 08, 2013 at 07:19 PM
You are correct. Burnells were evicted in August I believe.
Darris January 08, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Thank goodness for MHS. It's not easy to have animals removed from these situations. I've reported animal neglect in the past and MHS gives the owners every opportunity to clean up their act. Most often, from what I've experienced, is the owner's do what they have to do in the short term. They work the system. It's tremendous that someone posted photos on the Internet of the poor conditions of the farm. Abuse in any form can only continue if the cowards can hide. I understand there are cases where owners are suffering through hard financial times. There are people who can help, and organizations willing to take in animals but it does take time and effort. My heart breaks for these people.
RajaArmada January 09, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Why does it matter WHEN they were evicted? Those are habits that do not change overnight. Did you also read that she had her elderly parents living in that filth? What about all of the open judgments against her in Sonoma County? Household Finance owed $11,002.26 Document 2008096823 Turner, Reynolds, et al owed $64,684.43 Document 2011028070 (WOW – wonder why she needed so much legal counsel? Guess they do not take horses for payment!!) Myron Hinrichs (vet)owed $5,080.00 Document 2011098447 Rivertown FEED owed $4,340.83 Document 2012004127 Jill Burnell has been in business for YEARS, not months as Mr. Ainsworth suggests. Mr. Ainsworth was emailed with information with which to correct his story and refused to do so. That makes for poor journalism to me.
RJS January 09, 2013 at 04:14 AM
RajaArmada, the comment about when she was evicted was a reference to a prior (now gone) photo that had been attached to this article showing the horses in "better times". The photo made it "appear" that the seizure may have been unjustified. After being informed that the photo was not taken of the current property and outdated it was removed.
RajaArmada January 09, 2013 at 04:55 AM
Thank you for the clarification RJS. I thought they were referring to the photos of the foreclosed property showing the filth and dead animals and feces. The truth needs to be known about Jill. I wish Brent would report ALL of the facts and interview a Warmblood breeder and not a breeder who has nothing to do with the same types of horses that Jill does. I know this isn't a true news outlet but still. If you're going to report something, report it correctly and not with half-assed information
JSFLA January 10, 2013 at 09:36 AM
For Michael P. Wilson, since he was asking for more info: http://www.ratemyhorsepro.com/news/court-denies-burnells-petition-new-issues-arise.aspx


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