A Vallecito couple facing multiple counts of animal cruelty have forfeited the horses that were seized Feb. 15 from what they called a rescue operation.
Kimberly Paulden, 29, and Paul Paulden, 32, are each charged with six counts of animal cruelty, a crime that is a "wobbler" and can be considered either a felony or misdemeanor, after 15 allegedly malnourished horses were taken by Calaveras County Animal Services after a months-long investigation.
A trial setting hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 22.
The Pauldens stipulated their forfeiture of all the horses for which they had ownership in a Sept. 14 filing with the Calaveras County Superior Court.
Some of the horses that were owned by others who entrusted their care to the Pauldens were reclaimed and others relinquished by those individuals. Eight of the horses, including seven owned by the Pauldens, were taken to ReHorse Rescue Ranch in Jamestown. The other seven have been cared for at a private ranch in Angels Camp in cooperation with Animal Services. Amongst those seven, five have either been returned to previous owners or been adopted. Two horses are available for adoption.
Each of the animals has recovered to strong health after being in remarkably poor shape, said Raquelle Van Vleck, of ReHorse Rescue Ranch.
"Everybody has gained their weight," Van Vleck said. "They're doing wonderfully."
She said a severely malnourished mare and stallion have each put on about 300 pounds.
Van Vleck said the horses being cared for at ReHorse also will be made available for adoption.
ReHorse is caring for 42 horses and three donkeys in all, according to Van Vleck.
Those who wish to donate to help with the cost of the animals' feed and care should call ReHorse at 337-5886 or visit www.rehorserescue.org.