An intense afternoon at the Butte County Public Health Building Tuesday. A post seizure hearing was held after Christina Villalobos, the owner of All About The Animals Equine Rescue questioned a seizure made by Butte County Animal Control on December 2nd and 3rd. 15 horses were taken from Villalobos's facility. Villalobos says animal control did not give her proper warning before taking the animals, and many of her horses have on going health issues making them thin. " She rescues pathetic moth eaten horses where as other rescues will only rescue something if they're pretty sure they can turn around and find a home for it" said Villalobos's attorney, Nancy Ryan.
Butte County Animal Control Officials say that's not the case. They say that after months of contact with Villalobos, warning her about the conditions of the animals, the seizure was their last option. They say the animals seized were extremely thin and in desperate need of veterinary care. " I'm confident that we have done the right thing and we have the evidence to support that" said Butte County Animal Control Officer Amber Abbott.
Evidence the Butte County Animal Control is mostly presenting in the form of pictures. An administrative court hearing officer also heard from witnesses from both sides, including veterinarians who have examined the horses. Many supporters of Villalobos also lined the small hearing room today, but animal control says, regardless of the support, pictures don't lie. " The pictures are going to say it all" said Abbott.
But All About The Animals Equine Rescue's attorney is not flinching over the abundant evidence against her client. During the hearing she questioned the majority of the facts presented by officers, stating most of the evidence is hearsay. " The government can't take your property on a reasonableness standard, they have to have compelling reasons, and I don't think they've got evidence of that" explained Ryan.
A decision on whether the seizure was justified will be handed down by the end of next week after all the evidence is reviewed by the administrative hearing officer. If the seizure is found to be justified, Butte County Animal Control will then pass the case on to the district attorney to see if he would like to file criminal charges. If it is not found justified Christina Villalobos is expecting the return of her horses.