It all started around 3:30pm Tuesday afternoon, when Fresno County Sheriff's deputies got a call from a neighbor near the property on Shepherd Avenue, just west of Temperance. Deputies say the caller reported seeing one of the horses fall over in the middle of a stable and appeared unable to get back up on its feet.
When officers arrived, they discovered 19 horses in various stages of malnourishment. The one euthanized, was a 2 year old gelding with obvious signs of distress. Rescue workers said it appeared to be starving for quite some time, possibly more than seven months.
"This is not something that happened overnight, this has been an ongoing problem," said Beth Caffrey, Central California SPCA spokesperson.
During the investigation, 59 year old Dana Kahler made a stop at the property he was sub-leasing from a nearby landlord. Kahler was booked on charges of felony cruelty to animals, and posted $5,000 bail on Wednesday.
"He was released this morning and back here this morning," said Caffrey.
The SPCA hauled away nine of the horses to nearby rescue organizations, whose names were not released. Caffrey explained they'd be examined by a doctor to determine their age and what type of care each one needs. She said it typically costs about $100 a day to feed about 10 horses, and because of an overwhelming number of similar cases, the rescue groups will likely need help from the public.
"Over the last 20 years, we haven't seen what we've seen in the last 12 months," said Caffrey. "We don't have room for all the horses we're working with today so we're working with other organizations that are going help house them."
If you'd like to make a donation, contact the Central California SPCA at (559) 237-0134 or visit www.ccspca.com.