When police went to the Whispering Pines Ranch near Susanville, California, last April, they were horrified to discover the remains of at least 25 horses, some of whom were just skeletons.
They also found the bodies of three dogs, including one which was found hanging from a tree in what appears to have been a deliberate killing.
Animal Remains Dating Back Several Years
According to a press release from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office, the animal remains were found decomposed, ranging from recent to many years old.
The police were investigating following a tip-off, and happily it came in time to rescue the 56 surviving horses, although they were all in various stages of malnutrition.
From The Daily Mail:
“It was just a graveyard for horses,’ said Beth DeCaprio of The Grace Foundation, which is looking after them. ‘It was the worst case I had ever seen.’
Police Arrested The Sanctuary’s Owner, Found Drugs And Firearms
When she and her team went to inspect the site they found one horse covered in faeces being looked after by other mares.
Officers arrested the sanctuary’s owner, Dwight Bennett, and when police searched the sanctuary they allegedly found drugs including methamphetamine and marijuana along with five firearms.
From ABC news:
In all, 56 horses were removed from the Whispering Pines Ranch and brought to the Grace Foundation in El Dorado Hills.
“There’s no way to truly describe walking on a site with that many dead and decomposing animals,” DeCaprio said. ”The smell tells the story.”
Rescue workers provide a glimpse of what they saw at the ranch in a video posted on YouTube. It showed horses that were starved, covered in feces, suffering from diseases.
“When a horse dies, it’s not a quick death from starvation,” DeCaprio said. “It’s a long process and so you could see the hoof marks from the horses that struggled to get up. That’s what drives us, but that’s also what haunts us.”
But she added:
“This is not a sad case of animal cruelty,” DeCaprio said. ”This is something that can unite a community and can help us to look at ways to protect the most innocent victims in our society, and that’s our children and our animals.”
Happy Ending To A Desperately Sad Story
After weeks of care the surviving horses are doing well and one of them has actually become a police horse.
How could such an atrocity happen without anyone knowing about it, or reporting it? We don’t know, but it must be a lesson to always be on the look-out for creatures who cannot defend themselves.
Bennett is being held at the Lassen County Jail on $15,000 bail, and is awaiting trial. He has been charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance and 30 counts of cruelty to animals.
You can watch video of what rescuers found at the ranch here, but be aware that some of the images are very disturbing:
Photo Credit: WxMom