City & Government, Creswell

Biggest Horse Seize in County Fueled by Neighbors’ Complaints

CRESWELL – Strained whinnies pierced through a grassless pasture, bouncing off gnawed barn doors while animal control seized 61 severely neglected horses from a horse trainer on Oct. 30.
”This is by far the largest horse rescue in Lane County history, certainly within the last 30 years,” Lane County Public Information Officer Devon Ashbridge said, noting the only other comparable instance was in January 2018 when eight horses were seized from another Creswell farm.
For neighbors, it was a sigh of relief to see trailer after trailer haul off the horses from Gwenyth Davies’ property at 3305 Camas Swale Road – so much so, they pulled out lawn chairs, counting trailers as they passed.
”We’ve been waiting for this day,” said Andy Davis, who lives across the street on Camas Swale Road. At first, Davis’ daughter enjoyed watching the horses in Davies’ front yard because one resembled a horse in the movie ”Spirit,” he said as his daughter squirmed in his arms.
As summer continued, Davis noted something was not adding up. No rigs were spotted dropping off hay; and with over 60 horses, a semi-truck’s volume could be devoured in a week, he said.
He said his family would literally cheer with excitement when he saw the horses being fed; however, only a single bail of hay would be tossed in the enclosure.The horses gorged themselves and that would be all for another four or five days, he said.
”Ms. Davies is known to animal services,” said Lane County Senior Animal Welfare Officer Bernard Perkins. Davies resides at the property with her husband, Michael DeLeonardo, a farrier. In 2018, Davies was required to bring some of her horses in poor condition to minimum care standards. She complied, though another complaint was lodged later.
Last week’s action was the result of years of accumulated complaints by neighbors, several sources said. After damning photos of starving horses surfaced, it kicked the case into high gear.
”While we typically focus on voluntary compliance and education, the level of alleged neglect and Ms. Davies’ history of violations goes far beyond what is acceptable in our community,” Perkins said.
Wayne and Mary Walborn, of Roseburg, were making a lot of those calls. The Walborns owned the 25-acre property before selling it to Davies in January 2018.
”It’s worse than you could imagine,” Wayne said, as he stood on the bordering property, pointing to broken, jagged fencing, dilapidated structures and vigorously chewed fence posts.
Sierra Jones, of Creswell, used to board her horses with the Walbuorns. Within a few days of Davies’ ownership, Jones said she noticed horses were irregularly fed and were not being taken out of their unkempt stables. Water tubs were slimy and the horse feces mounted, infested with maggots in the stalls, Jones said.
Within two weeks of Davies’ ownership, Jones pulled her horses from the boarding facility.
The barn has 32 stalls, said Mary, who said she knows the land like the back of her hand. There is no additional horse shelter in place on the property, she said, so half of those 61 horses were stuck outside in all weather, unprotected, starving and sick.
The L-shaped property stretches a half-mile back; where Davies’ property and Camas Swale Creek meet, Wayne and Sandy Huey, who operates Emerald Valley Equine Assistance Horse Rescue, identified horse bones, legs and horsehide sticking out of shallow graves on the embankment.
The seize took all day. A small number of horses were deemed in fair condition by veterinarians and left on the property and the seized horses were transported to Lane County Fairgrounds and examined for a health evaluation, Ashbridge said. The last horses were taken on Nov. 3 to Sound Equine Options, a Gresham-based rescue organization, Ashbridge said.
Davies has been arrested and cited in lieu of custody for second-degree animal neglect, a felony, according to court records.
The Lane County District Attorney’s Office is working with Oregon Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney Jake Kamins, who specializes in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases.
The animals are considered evidence in a criminal investigation. Anyone with ownership interest is encouraged to contact the Oregon Humane Society at 503-285-7722.
If you suspect animal abuse in the community, concerns should be shared with Lane County Animal Services at 541-682-3645. It may be helpful to provide photos and evidence when appropriate.
For now, the bill for the care of these horses is being handled through Sound Equine Options, though will later be determined through the court. To help with costs and fostering, contact Sound Equine Options at 503-489-9092.



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