Kahler faces trial for Fresno Co. animal abuse

March 15, 2013 12:35:10 AM PDT
Authorities called it one of the worst animal abuse cases Fresno County has ever seen. 59-year-old Dana Kahler was arrested back in December 2011 on 12 counts of felony animal abuse. On Thursday, he was back in court where a judge determined there was enough evidence to move forward with a trial.

Shielded by his attorneys, Kahler sat quietly inside a Fresno County courtroom, as the lead investigator in the case described what he saw when he went to a property on Shepherd Avenue near Temperance Avenue and discovered 19 horses in various stages of neglect.

"I could see bones protruding on several of the horses, also saw rib cages and they appeared to be weak and frail," Fresno County Deputy Pete Garcia.

Garcia said one of the horses was so malnourished, it couldn't stand up and had to be put down.

"He was digging himself in a hole, unable to get up on his feet," he said. "He was very aggressive and acting erratically."

Others had rotting teeth and were running wild. Two of them were pregnant. Because of their conditions, rescuers with the Central California SPCA said it was difficult to corral them and get them under control.

"They were terrified of human beings so they wouldn't let us touch them, it was extremely difficult. Our officers spent three days getting them loaded up so we could bring them to safety," said spokesperson Beth Caffrey.

Since then, two more horses had to be euthanized due to severe illness and injury, but Caffrey said the others have come a long way. She said Holly gave birth to Holly Berry and Rosie gave birth to Thorne and one of the sets was adopted out together.

In an effort to find the other horses forever homes, Caffrey said the Central California SPCA recently entered into a partnership with the Monty Roberts International Learning Center. Under the Umbrella of Join Up International, the non-profit organization founded by the award-winning horse trainer and best-selling author of "The Man Who Listens to Horses," has agreed to work with the animals at no cost.

One of the organization's master trainers is now working with Patrick, one of the most unsocial and misbehaved horses seized from the property.

"Patrick is one that has weighed heavily on us for a long time because he was so terrified of humans," said Caffrey. "He was hard to handle which means it's hard to give him veterinary care as well. There was a danger to him, as well as to the humans."

While the horses continue to improve under the new relationship, inside the courtroom, new details emerged about the man his landlord said had a difficult time caring for his animals during the five years they were on the property.

"There were lots of times when I didn't see Mr. Kahler for two to three months, even to pay rent, but I have to say, he'd eventually show up," said Bob Campbell.

"We are spending over a thousand dollars every two to three weeks for hay," said Caffrey. "We need to make the laws a little bit stiffer so they (Kahler and other accused abusers) can't go do this in another location."

Kahler is expected to be back in court next month for arraignment.


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