Dispute over dozens of horses in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif.

The "Horse Plus Humane Society" says the owner signed a contract promising to give them 65 horses. While they have picked up some, the rest are being sold to the public. The rescue group says that's a breach of contract. But, the owner tells Action News it's his right.

Harold Kelly has made his living raising and training horses. Just recently, he had as many as 150 living on an 800 acre plot of land just east of Fresno County. But after suffering a bad fall, fighting cancer, and a series of heart attacks, Kelly says he's ready to hand over the reins to anyone who's willing to pay a low market price.

Harold Kelly said, "I can do some things, but not in the way that I was doing it. So, my choice is to find homes for the horses."

The search started in June. That's when an Oroville based rescue group called "Horse Plus Humane Society" claims Kelly contacted them for help.

Tawnee Preisner with the Horse Plus Humane Society said, "We went down there and he signed over 65 horses to us, and we picked up 14 the first day, and an additional 12 later."

After preparing for a third pick-up, vice president, Tawnee Preisner says Kelly suddenly ended their agreement, saying he didn't want the group's assistance after all. According to Kelly, that's because the group made up lies to raise money for the horses, saying they were malnourished.

While Preisner admits some were thin: "10 horses were pretty much up to weight, looking fine, but there were two really skinny ones."

She says other rescue groups are responsible for the negative remarks. "People can say all kinds of stuff, but you know, we're here for the horses and now the horses are in jeopardy."

Preisner worries the horses are being sold to people who will ship them off to slaughter houses. Kelly disagrees. He also disputes claims his horses are unhealthy. He showed Action News nearly twenty of them Wednesday and described in detail what they feed on every day. He said, "The best grass you have in the foothills as far as nutritious is fillery."

As for the contract, Kelly describes it as "null and void."

Horse Plus Humane Society, meanwhile, is looking at their legal options.

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