Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

A Vallecito husband and wife convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in December were ordered last week to pay nearly $36,000 in restitution to veterinarians and horse rescue operations in Angels Camp and Jamestown.

The ruling by Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin orders Kimberly Paulden, 29, and Paul Paulden, 32, to pay $24,869 to ReHorse Rescue Ranch in Jamestown, $7,723 to Angels Camp Veterinary Hospital and $3,406 to Sorce's Second Chance Rescue in Angels Camp.

Fifteen horses were seized from the Pauldens in February 2012 following reports of malnourishment. According to court documents, Kimberly Paulden told authorities she was trying to establish a horse rescue operation and took on as many as 17 thoroughbreds from a regional race track.

The restitution decision comes after Kimberly Paulden pleaded no contest to six counts and Paul Paulden entered a no contest plea to one of six counts of animal cruelty against him on Dec. 17. A Harvey waiver on the remaining counts against Paul Paulden allowed the dismissed charges to be considered in sentencing.

Each received three years of probation with a $1,140 fine for Kimberly Paulden and a $190 fine for Paul Paulden.

During the restitution hearing, ReHorse submitted bills for a pair of horses named Duke and Riley. Attorneys for the Pauldens showed a horse named Whiskey had been sold for a total of $100 to a woman named Joan Dickens.

Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully that the county held responsibility for a portion of the costs.

ReHorse operator Raquelle Van Vleck said her ranch still has a half-dozen of the horses, which the Pauldens relinquished in a September 2012 filing. Two have been adopted already and another pair are in the process, Van Vleck said.

"Everybody's doing well," she said, including a stallion who needed five weeks at the veterinary hospital to gain weight.

"He's beautiful," Van Vleck said, and is participating in a volunteer training program.