Animal rights group sues for records in horse death in Rancho Santa Fe

Litigation filed against county’s Department of Animal Services


An animal rights group is suing San Diego County’s Department of Animal Services to obtain records surrounding the alleged neglect of dozens of horses — one of which died — at a Rancho Santa Fe property earlier this year.

Los Angeles Alliance for Animals seeks records regarding an investigation that occurred in March, in which the county’s Department of Animal Services received complaints about the care of horses at a ranch on Artesian Road.

Between 40 and 50 horses allegedly had been receiving substandard care at the ranch. The department reported that one elderly horse was found down, stuck in mud, and died before the animal could be euthanized.

The nonprofit alleges that an Animal Control officer responded but did not immediately euthanize the animal, leaving the horse to languish for more than two hours. Zohra Fahim, founder of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, claimed in a statement that a bystander who identified themselves as a veterinarian offered to euthanize the horse, but was refused, “resulting in prolonged distress of the elderly mare.”

The nonprofit is seeking the necropsy report for that horse and other records related to public complaints about the care of horses at the Artesian Road property.

A spokesperson with the Department of Animal Services said they have not received the lawsuit and thus could not comment on it.

The nonprofit alleges it has not received any responses to California Public Records Act requests submitted in April for those records. The department reported earlier this year that it had been engaged in ongoing communications with the property owner’s private veterinarian regarding care of the animals on the property.