Who, age What Where When Last known address
Lacie Caron, 41 dog found with broken leg Mira Loma, CA 2005  
Lacie Caron, 41 29 horses seized from the Limonite Riding Stables Mira Loma, CA June 2, 2005  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) seized
    1 dog, 29 horses

County animal-control officials seized 29 horses from a Mira Loma riding stable after a six-month investigation into allegations that the animals were malnourished and sickly and had inadequate shelter.

Lacie Caron, owner of the Limonite Riding Stables, watched intently as 10 Riverside County animal-control officers and several volunteers rounded up the horses, loaded them into trailers and pulled out.  "What they're doing is unnecessary," Caron said. "These people don't know what they are doing. So all I can do is sit here and watch and try to get my horses back."

Robert Miller, director of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, said officers are preparing an animal-cruelty case against Caron and will submit it to the district attorney's office within the next 10 days.

An animal-cruelty case involving a dog with a broken leg was submitted to the district attorney's office earlier this year, Miller said. Animal-control officers allege that Caron failed to get veterinary care for the animal after she was ordered to.

Caron said she did not believe the dog's leg was broken and could not afford the cost of a veterinarian.

As for her horses, Caron insisted that they were healthy and well-fed.  "I've raised most of these horses since they were babies," Caron said.  "Do you see any starving horses?" she asked.

Department of Animal Services officials said they have received complaints from 16 people this year alone. The complaints allege that the horses had no water, were in poor condition and were plagued with hoof problems.

Spokesman Ralph Rivers said animal-control officers have cited Caron numerous times, trying to bring her operation into compliance with animal-welfare laws.  "We didn't see any improvement," Rivers said.

The department's hand was forced May 27, when an equine veterinarian called in to examine a horse deemed to be in "grave condition" recommended that the animal be humanely euthanized, Rivers said.

The horse had painful abscesses in both front hoofs, and it was malnourished and in poor condition. According to the veterinarian, other horses on the property had been overworked or had upper respiratory tract infections or heart failure.

Rivers said an administrative hearing determined that there was probable cause to seize the horses, and a judge signed the seizure order.  "With one horse being put down, we didn't want to take a chance with the other horses," Rivers said.

Caron said she has owned Limonite Riding Stables since 1993. The business rents horses for trail riding.

She said she was given less than 24 hours' notice of the pending hearing and was not allowed to see the report prepared by the veterinarian or to summon her own veterinarian for a second opinion.  "I should have the right to a second opinion," she said.

The stable is in Mira Loma, a semirural unincorporated community west of Riverside, where many residents keep horses and other livestock on large lots. It fronts Limonite Avenue, one of the community's most heavily traveled thoroughfares.

Neighbor Debbie Aberl said she was taken aback when she saw the horses being removed.  "I see her care for those animals," Aberl said. "She feeds them, she cleans the pens.

Aberl said that during this year's heavy rains, Caron would be out on her tractor digging trenches so that the corrals would drain properly.  "I'm just shocked by this," she said.

Update 6/4/05:  The Limonite Riding Stables was a virtual ghost town a day after Riverside County Animal Control officers swept in, seizing all of the stable's 29 horses on allegations of animal cruelty.

Some of the horses at the rental operation were going hungry while others had been neglected and suffered from various ailments, some serious, county director of Animal Services Robert Miller said.

Four horses were diagnosed with serious heart problems and three of the four apparently were still being rented out despite their medical condition, he said.   The fourth horse was pregnant and will likely not survive giving birth, Miller added.

Animal Services had responded to numerous complaints in the past, 16 this year alone, and had given the owner, Lacie Caron , fair warning to correct the problems, he said.

"She's been cited numerous times on neglect issues," Miller said. "She had an opportunity to bring a veterinarian in and care for these horses."

Caron's stepdaughter, Amber Caron of El Monte, charged Animal Services with ongoing harassment.  "We've never neglected our horses in 25 years," Caron said. "It's totally blown out of proportion."

Miller, however, said many of the horses appeared to be lacking basic care.   Some of the animals were foundering or suffering from hoof infections, he said.

Caron's horses have been placed in foster care and will be receiving veterinary care, he said.

Update 8/5/05:  An owner of a former Mira Loma riding stable is facing 15 counts of felony animal cruelty.

The Riverside County district attorney's office filed the charges Wednesday against Lacie Lynn Caron, who is also facing an arrest warrant that was signed by a judge in July.

Authorities seized 29 horses and ponies from the Limonite Riding Stables, Caron's business, in June and placed them at a "foster ranch." Officials destroyed two that could not be saved, according to court records.

If convicted, Caron, 41, could be sentenced to as much as 13 years in state prison, said Ingrid Wyatt, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

No one answered the door at Caron's Dodd Street home, and she did not respond to a note left there. Her attorney, James Teixeira, did not return a telephone message Thursday.

The county's Department of Animal Services responded to complaints at Caron's home and stable in March. Animal control officer Jamie Simmons wrote in a report that Caron had no food or water on the property. She said she discovered similar situations on follow-up visits. Simmons reported that some of the horses appeared lethargic and she eventually issued a "notice of violation," ordering Caron to have a licensed veterinarian examine the horses.

Simmons summoned a veterinarian to examine the horses in late May. The veterinarian, Kristie Brandenburg, diagnosed some of the horses with a viral upper-respiratory infection. Others had medical conditions that included heart failure, kidney failure, internal parasites, dehydration, neglected hooves, open wounds from saddle abrasions, poor coats, malnutrition, emaciation, neglected teeth, rain rot (a skin infection) and lice, according to court records.

The department "rescued the animals from further suffering and possibly saved their lives by removing them from Lacie Caron 's neglectful care," Simmons wrote in a document supporting Caron's arrest.

Update 8/9/05:  The arraignment for the Mira Loma stables owner charged with animal abuse was rescheduled to Aug. 30. Lacie Caron faces 15 counts of felony animal abuse after animal control officers seized 29 of her riding horses in June. 

Caron is scheduled to be arraigned in Riverside County Superior Court on 15 counts of felony animal cruelty, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's office.

Update 12/13/07:  Two and a half years after Animal Services officials seized 23 horses and two ponies from a Mira Loma riding stable, the animals have been nursed back to health and are ready for adoption.

"Some of these horses are high-quality animals that have received great veterinary care during this long process," said Rita Gutierrez, field services commander for Riverside County's Department of Animal Services.

       

(Photo's courtesy of William Wilson Lewis III/The Press-Enterprise

- Jenny Selter tends to one of the 25 horses seized and some of the horses nursed back to health)

The animals - some malnourished and others suffering from saddle sores, abscessed feet and overgrown hooves, officials say - were taken from the Limonite Riding Stables in June 2005. They have been housed at a private ranch in the Nuevo area since.

Owner Lacie Caron has been charged with 29 counts of animal cruelty. She has pleaded not guilty. A trial is set for Jan. 22.

In July, Judge Judson W. Morris released the horses to Animal Services to be placed for adoption but ordered that adoption fees be placed in an interest-bearing account until the trial is completed. Adoption fees range from $200 to $3,800.

Gutierrez estimated that her department has spent more than $100,000 on boarding fees, feed, hoof care and veterinary care during the past 2 1/2 years.

The horses range in age from 3 to 30. Because all of the animals have been handled by veterinarians and farriers, they are socialized and halter broken, Gutierrez said.

Reference:

The Press-Enterprises

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin