12-14-10

We know many of you have probably heard and read rumors floating around over the last few weeks.  We have chosen to release the information gathered by concerned people and our staff over the last year about a local lady who became a ‘rescue.’  This blog is dedicated to the horses who suffered and were brutally shot at the rendering plant under the direction and control of Christina Villalobos.

We just want to clear up any rumours that have been floating around since the media has gotten the news out about the seizure.  We have not talked about this before as we were not involved in the seizure, but we feel that many of you are wanting to know behind the scenes.

On December 2nd, Christina, on her rescue website, accused our organization, and Tawnee in particular, of seizing her horses.  Their website stated:

Today was a horrible day for Christina and the rescue. Another local rescue “Horse Plus Humane Society” AKA “Nor cal Equine Rescue” has been trying to get us shut down from the start because they assume another rescue in the same area means competition(read competition for donations). For the most part we get horses that they would put down and horses that the owners don’t want to end up in Horse Plus hands. Yesterday we got a paper from Animal Control because  2 boarded horses got in a neighbors pasture( We have dealt with animal control since we opened because we get alot of skinny horses in) and today while Christina was at work Tawnee from Horse Plus and her own personal vet had come out with Animal Control and with no citation or reasoning why they took 8 horses(other than there was not hay in the hay area which was due to the fact we buy hay by the truckload, which we go through every 2 days which means we feed dry mold free day all winter long) . By the time Christina arrived they already had horses loaded and Christina was placed in hand cuffs till Animal Control, Tawnee And Her Vet left.”

We found this accusation to be flattering and confusing all at the same time.  Jason and Larry were delivering the stray horse that was picked up on the road back to its home during the seizure.  It was Tawnee’s day off, and she was not anywhere near Christina’s house.  It was flattering however, because the animals, as you will see as you read on, desperately needed help.  We would love to take credit for this seizure, but 100% of the credit goes to Butte County Animal Control, as it was their investigation, legal counsel and finally manpower and budget that did the seizure.

Over the last week the rumors have gotten extremely vicious against our organization and Tawnee personally.  There are apparently several people that are willing to be a “witness” that Tawnee was there.

On Thursday the 9th KHSL asked Tawnee to come in to their station so they could interview her and ask her questions about her whereabouts.  During the interview Tawnee related her surprise about receiving the phone call that Butte County Animal Control was seizing Christina’s horses.  Channel 12 asked why Horse Plus Humane Society’s truck and trailer were seen on the same street as Christina lives on.  Larry, our shelter manager, lives about 4 houses up from the road past Christina’s and was heading back and forth from the shelter and his house.

We told Channel 12 when they first contacted us that we were not responsible for seizing these animals and we did not want to get involved.  They were welcome to question us, but we did not want to get involved as an organization as it was a potential conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, Christina’s supporters have been hounding us for answers and spreading lies and fabricating rumors.  We feel that these questions need to be answered, we did not want to say anything negative about another organization, we have never said anything negative on our blog or website about Christina or her rescue, but we feel it is time for the truth to be told.

Before continuing reading the blog, please a few minutes and watch this video.  This is Christina Villalobos, on tape, stating how if she can’t afford to rehab a horse, her husband takes it to the rendering plant and shoots it there.  Then when the trailer comes back it has to be cleaned out.  Why?  As you can imagine, it is because there is so much blood in the trailer from the horses being shot.  Our organization believes that euthanasia by injection is the kindest, most humane and peaceful way to perform end of life services.  Gunshots should only be done under an extreme emergency situation where no other options exist.  This video is not graphic and is suitable for all audiences.  To watch the video, click here.

Who is Christina?  Why does she hate our organization?  A little history…

About a year ago, Christina found out about our gelding program and had some stallions that needed to be gelded.  Our staff told her we could get her some certificates where we would cover $125 of each stallions gelding cost.

Christina told our staff one of her horses history.  He had been owned by a guy who had problems with Animal Control.  He had called Christina up in a panic because his horse had been injured, and he couldn’t afford vet care, and if Animal Control saw the horse he would get in trouble. Christina said she immediately went and got the horse so Animal Control wouldn’t find out.  Did she really admit to covering for an animal abuser?

In January 2009 Christina had 3 stallions gelded under our program at Look Ahead Vet Services where, with your support to our gelding program, $375 was paid to help cover the gelding costs.

In March of 2009 Christina came out to the old rescue location and fell in love with a pregnant mare: Honey.  She still had a stallion who she was standing at stud, but she wanted to adopt this pregnant mare.  Our policy is that we do not adopt mares to homes with stallions.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Regardless, Christina submitted her adoption application.  Christina came back out with her husband so he could see Honey.  When Tawnee was showing Honey to Christina, she was appalled when Christina’s husband looked at a chunky horse in a neighboring stall and said “Wow, you could get some good horse steaks out of her.”  What a thing to even joke about, was he joking?

In doing Christina’s adoption application, we found just by Googling her phone number she had a lot of horses coming and going, horses for sale and a stallion standing at stud.  We found evidence of Animal Control issues, which can been seen near the bottom of this page. We had to deny Christina from adopting a horse.  Anytime we do deny an application, we understand that hard feelings can exist in the person that was denied.  It can be taken as saying they are unfit to own animals and are a bad person.  Not necessarily so, but we have policies we must follow.

As you may remember, Honey had all normal signs of impending delivery, including dripping milk, and we thought she was going to have a normal delivery.  Sadly, Prince was born 30 days premature.  To read their story, click here.

He was rushed to the vet and was given a 30% chance of survival.

Tawnee told Dr Weaver that Honey and Prince were going to stay at the vet for at least 30 days, until Prince should have been born, to make sure he had the best possible start to life.

After being told she was denied, we got a phone call from Look Ahead Vet telling us that Christina was wanting to pick up Prince and Honey, she told them that we said she could, and that she could take just as good care of Prince as the vet.  We were extremely surprised: she was denied, how bold to go behind our backs and try to tell our vet that she was ready to pick up Prince and Honey?

Shortly after that, Christina launched a negative publicity campaign of slander and lies against our organization that she was waged ever since.  Her first Craigslist posting read: 

Date: 2009-04-17, 8:05AM PDT
This is Christina and Nor Cal did deny me adoption on a horse. They said AC denied me but AC said there is no reason to deny me that it is between me and Nor Cal. Funny thing is that the mare I was trying to adopt just made them alot of publicity. The mare was in a pen next to a dominate mare and foaled about a month premature and now they are heros for saving this baby that should have not been born if the mare was in a proper environment. I decided to go to the auction in Roseville to look around and see what I could find. I got there about 10 and spoke to almost every owner that brought a horse in and got the scoop on each one. Asking histories on these horses and any info the owners could give. I then chose some to bid on from that info since I was looking for horses for my kids, neices, mom and brother. While bidding on these horses Nor Cal raised my bids on horses up to $475. Funny they claim there are kill buyers, Speaking to the staff there are none there. I was bidding against Nor Cal on the big black gelding since I spoke to the two people who brought him in and was told that he was trained about 10 years ago but could be tuned up quickly. He was great to handle and would make a great horse. I later read Nor Cal’s blog and they state they were bidding against a kill buyer, last time I checked I do NOT eat HORSE!!! If you want to contact me go ahead 530-354-8399 But now you have the whole story.

What Christina didn’t know was that at the auction, despite what the staff said (they were protecting their killer buyer clients as always) killer buyers were at the auction every month.  Christina didn’t know that the kb’s were nodding their head ever so slightly, placing their bids.  Those were the ones Tawnee was bidding against.

It wasn’t long before she decided that, since she was denied, she could run a much better organization.  Now, again, we do not want to point fingers as to who is better and who is not, this is just the history.  She posted on Craigslist that her rescue was launched and that she was filing for 501(c)(3) status.

Date: 2009-07-22, 8:04AM PDT
There is a place to turn. The Auction is being over crowded with great horses and then they end up at rescue. If you have a horse that you can not care for or needs more training than you can provide please call me I can even transport them you have to do nothing. I enjoy training and rehabilitating horses and have been doing it for years. I am currently filing my 501 c (3) to do non for profit rescue but can not claim it yet. Everything for these animals comes out of my pocket not the pocket of generous donators. If you have something please call me 530-354-8399 and see what we can do. My kids are very involved in what I do and enjoy them, too. Thanks Christina, Check out my website http://www.aaaequinerescue.com/ Horses Available, too

There needs to be more legitimate horse rescues, until there are no unwanted, no abused, no neglected, and no abandoned horses, there needs to be more people working to save horses.  We hoped that Christina’s rescue would thrive and that she would be able to place a lot of horses into appropriate homes.

We started getting concerned when we began receiving an ever increasing volume of phone calls from people who were worried about the horses at Christina’s.  Tawnee referred them to call Animal Control every time.

From Christina’s website there was some concerning issues that began to appear in the horses conditions.  Horses could be seen arriving (she was nice enough to date the photos) and then get worse over time.  That’s backwards.  Horses are supposed to arrive at a rescue skinny and become fatter over time.  The only time we have not seen horses gain weight is for extreme medical conditions or when they were being given steroids at the Fallon Feedlot.  Regardless, any phone calls that would come in we would redirect them to Animal Control.

In April of 2010 a neighbor called up and complained that Christina was hiding her skinny horses with blankets and wouldn’t take off the heavy blankets during the hot spring days.  It got into the 80’s this April, that is far to hot for any horse to be under a heavy winter blanket.  The blankets were not being removed and the horses condition under the blankets were said to be thin from what could be seen.

We decided to do a drive-by to find out what was happening.  We found a lot of emaciated horses standing in small electric fence pens with no shelter.

The horses conditions where not good, but she was a rescue so of course she has thin horses right?

One horse in particular caught our eye.  His name was Magic.  This is Magic, taken April 19th, 2010.

From Christina’s website, this is Magic when he arrived July 18th, 2009.  In just 9 months he went from the sleek, beautiful big boy below, to the gaunt emaciated horse above.  By visiting Christina’s website, on Magic’s page you can see his downward spiral while at the ‘rescue.’  To view his page, click here.

In January, Magic had gone from looking great at his arrival to looking thin and shabby.

In April, he was looking terrible.  Poor boy!  From the road it was obvious that Magic was stuck in a tiny electric pen with no food or shelter when this picture was taken.

A person who had visited Christina’s rescue was extremely concerned about some of the horses and stated that Christina was going to have some of them shot if no one got them.  We were horrified to hear that anyone claiming to be a rescue would even remotely consider shooting a horse because it needed to be put down for any reason.  We had a hard time believing that Christina said that.

One of the horses that the lady was concerned about was this mare, who’s leg had been injured.

This horse (Duchess, seen above) two months ago, from Christina’s website, was thin but nowhere near the emaciated condition she was seen April 19th, 2010.

This beautiful horse was another one the lady was concerned about.

Off of Christina’s website, when she came in Jan 14th, 2010, you can tell she was thin but there was no real progress in her rehab 3 months later either.  She could be old and / or have medical problems.  Not every skinny horse can be saved despites valiant efforts.

The one horse that concerned this person the most was Vi Tobin, a horse that Christina said her husband was going to shoot because she was skinny and she couldn’t afford to put weight on her when no one would adopt her anyway.

Vi Tobin, seen in December on Christina’s website, was thin.  It was just impossible to tell what was happening under that blanket when our staff did the drive-by April 19th, 2010.  She looked thinner, but it was hard to tell.

We still couldn’t believe that Christina would actually talk about shooting horses, but the concerned person went back to Christina’s and came out with a 45 minute video and 3 horses that she wanted us to take and do what was best for them.  She really wanted the horses, but Vi Tobin was so weak she could barely stand.  This is where the video we asked you to watch came from, the purchase of 3 horses for $200 from Christina with no paperwork signed whatsoever or pre-adoption application done.

After the horses were surrendered to us we took them immediately to the vet.  Vi Tobin had a hole worn in her whithers where the blanket had been on her so long it was eating into her flesh.  This was the first time we had ever seen this kind of abuse.  Hiding this poor horse under her blanket in 80 degree weather so people wouldn’t call Animal Control only led to this horse’s continuous suffering.

At the vet we were immediately facing a bill of over $1,000 to give the horses the emergency vet care they required.  We would not put them on our website to ask for funds as we did not want to put a negative light on Christina.  Perhaps she was just having a hard time and could get it all together and start doing what was right for the horses.  We were still blown away by her describing how they put down horses in the trailer with a gunshot in front of another horse and our hope was fading fast that Christina would be a legitimate rescuer.

This is Duchess being evaluated April 20th, 2010.

The horses were all evaluated, fecal work done, blood-work, we were hoping their emaciated condition was something other than a lack of food.  After all was done it was found they were being fed a diet of a straw like material and were not getting enough calories and were starving.  The fecal showed that there were no worms, so at least the horses were being wormed.  They just simply weren’t getting enough feed.

Vi Tobin was a body score of 1, her poor frail emaciated body had been well hidden under the heavy winter blanket from the neighbors eyes.

Just 4 months earlier, based on the photo Christina posted on her website, Vi Tobin looked much better.  Thin, but not emaciated.  On Christina’s site, on Vi Tobin’s page, her updated photo showed her under blanket to hide her emaciated condition.  To see it, click here.

Now, less than 4 months later, Vi Tobin was a bag of bones.  Starved down with the excuse “She’s old now, we’re going to shoot her.”

Maggie was pretty thin as well, her light coat hid how skinny she really was.

Her hip bones and backbone was clearly visible and she needed a lot of weight too.

Right away we had all the fecals done, the blood work, their teethe floated by the vet, who stated that their teethe had not been floated and their hooves trimmed.  We couldn’t talk about this on our blog but reached out to some of our sponsors and would like to thank All Roads Communications for providing funds for the initial care of these horses.

All the documents, photo’s and vet reports were taken to Animal Control.  Shortly after that the little electric fences all disappeared.

Then the long rehab began.  This is Vi Tobin the day she was surrendered to us.

In two months she was looking so much better.  Her ribs were disappearing and her attitude was getting happier.  Sadly, due to other health complications, she was humanely euthanized, but we had the comfort knowing that she was not hauled off to the rendering plant, and forced to watch another horse get brutally murdered with a gunshot to his/her head, knowing her turn was next.  She didn’t have a hole in her back anymore, and she had nice yummy food in her tummy.  We wished her health complications were not long lasting and that were going to be aggravated by the cold winter, but sadly we had to say “Goodbye” knowing it was the kindest thing to do before the cold winter months hit.  She knew love, lots of good food and peace before passing on.

Duchess was emaciated when she was surrendered to us.

Less than 5 months later you couldn’t tell it was the same horse.

Maggie, the poor thin paint, seen here the day before she was surrendered to us…

…less than 5 months later was, as you could tell, blossoming and had a whole new look of health and vitality about her.

Now that you have had a history lesson, back to the recent seizure of 15 horses from Christina’s place, all in probably just as bad of shape as Vi Tobin, Maggie and Duchess.

Apparently all the local people were curious.  Channel 12 called up and interviewed Tawnee for a great while.  They asked if she was at the seizure.  No she wasn’t.  Tawnee told them she would give them all of the above photo’s, the full 45 minute video, and a lot more information as well.  On December 3rd they came out to get the DVD and talked to our staff.  We told Channel 12 that since we were not involved we wanted to stay out of it as we had nothing to do with it.  We gave any information we had to Animal Control, and told people who called us concerned to contact Animal Control.

Butte County Animal Control is taking a lot of heat along with their contracted vet, Look Ahead Vet.  Look Ahead vet has been our veterinarian since 2005 and is an excellent vet.  Their rehab with Phoenix was absolutely outstanding.

On Christina’s Facebook page, her supporters are proud of harassing and intimidating people at Christina’s post seizure hearing.

Dennis Merrifield the day of the hearing, i blew up on one of the complainers- a little short dumpy red/purple hair woman with a VERY big mouth, (someone says she is a realtor) anyway- she was filling the poor security guards ear with bullS *** about pigeon fever- yapping about its in the ground, on the fences, all the horses need to be put down, ETC- i explained (loudly) that she needs to educate herself and shut up- the 2 horses infected WERE quarantined, and A/C actually caused more harm than good by putting those 2 horses in trailers with Healthy horses, and im SURE they didnt disinfect the trailers BEFORE loading MORE horses in them- she ran away and hid in Environmental services office till i left – SHE needs a good attitude adjustment-
and just to make myself feel a teeny little bit better, when Michelle ran out of the room with her “protector” from A/C, i stood in front of her, looked her in the eye, and called her a C***- i know it was wrong, but the look of fear made it worth it( sigh-no wonder im single)
Kat Monaghan ‎:) wish I were there to see that 🙂
Rhiannon Hawk Good for you Dennis! I didn’t see that part happen but then I was kinda in the middle of things.

It is amazing that these people are so proud of yelling profanities, insulting and demeaning women.  We did not attend the post seizure hearing as we were not involved in the seizure.

After the seizure, it was rumored on the internet that we had seized the horses and were holding them.  On Friday Rhiannon, Christina’s farrier, came to the shelter on the pretense that she wanted to look at some of the horses.  During her visit she kept fishing for information about the seizure.  All we knew about the seizure was that Butte County Animal Control had seized the horses.

On the Sunday after the seizure, this lady came out at closing time and pestered Tawnee full of interrogative questions about the seizure.  Once again, Tawnee didn’t know anything about the seizure, and due to legal reasons, was not going to tell anybody anything even if she did know anything, especially a blatant spy.  Long after closing time, as soon as this lady left she pulled down Christina’s road talking on her cell phone. Of course both visits were captured by our video surveillance.

A couple local news outlets covered the story, no doubt much more to come.  The ChicoER newspaper ran an enlightening article, you can read it by clicking here. Tawnee was also questioned by the newspaper about her whereabouts while this was all going on.  Once again, Tawnee was not at the seizure and had no idea it was happening until she picked up the phone and heard the news.

Channel 12’s newsclip can be seen by clicking here. Make sure you watch the video, it is on the right upper corner.

Again, we are not interested in downing any legitimate organization, we work smoothly and wonderfully with many Animal Control agencies, horse rescues, sanctuaries and animal professionals.  Animal abusers take many forms, including posing as a rescue.  There are many examples, 3 Strikes Ranch (about 200 horses seized, over 100 felony convictions,) Winding Road Equine Rescue in Kansas (80 horses seized,) Hidden Meadow Equine Rescue (53 horses seized,) and now All About the Animals Equine Rescue (15 horses seized.)  As the economy goes down, rescues across the nation are forced with harder and harder decisions.  So many get in far more horses than they have resources to care for, become abusers themselves, and the horses have to be rescued from the rescue.

The next scheduled blog is going to be posted on Monday and will cover this weeks events.

0 thoughts on “12-14-10”

  1. This story makes me so pissed off I could just scream. That woman is nuts,I can’t believe what you people have to put up with .I just don’t get it!!I just want to thank you again and again for all the love and work you all do!!God bless all of you.I love horses so much,well all animals.That woman will get hers,if not here, in judgement of the last days!!!

  2. I never doubted the truth from NorCal, and it’s no surprise that those who go on smear campaigns without any factual documentation to substantiate their allegations are far more often than not guilty of fraud and/or abuse themselves.

    I thank God the horses are now in safe, loving and experienced hands. Thank you NorCal.

  3. Having been in horse rescue I know how this happens. I worked for one for 3 years. It was doing good for 2 1/2 of those years then moved to a new “bigger” location out of town. During that 6 mont time the president didn’t feed the horses, clean or water the horses and left the repairing of fences to her over-worked husband who now hates horses.
    It is so rewarding to take a horse from thin to healthy but horrifying to watch someone who knows better take a horse from healthy to thin.
    Not saying this gal is like the one I fought with to get her shut down but she could be. It took me 3 months of working closely with the sheriff’s office to get her to get her shut down. It only worked because I was a former board member and had over 100 photos and documentation proving the decline of health of the horses she had.
    Now this rescuer is a very educated person but lacked the “motivation” to take care of the animals correctly. She blamed her health but it was laziness that caused the demise of animals in her care. You can’t whine about having to take care of X amount of animals because you don’t have volunteers. You DO NOT take in more then you can physically take care of yourself – unless staffed.
    So even if it is a rescue – call Animal Control or the Sheriff’s office. If they are rehabbing they will have proof of the animal inproving or vet notes about the situation.
    I now do small animal rescue and only in my own home so I can make sure the animals get care that I approve of. Never taking in more then my salary or I can (by myself) take care of.

  4. Thank you for clarifying this situation. I had heard many rumors. I know that Animal Control never moves quickly and if they seized the horses then they probably had been working on this situation for at least six months. I also looked at the website and saw that most of the horses were thin even the ones they had for over a year.

  5. Love the before and after pictures on the re-rescued horses! Shame these “faux” rescues give everyone a bad name!

  6. Christine Villalobos – is she in anyway connected to All About Equine Animal Rescue in El Dorado Hills CA? The name is so similar. Just from their site all looks good – just never know.

  7. Unfortunately, horse rescue seems to attract a lot of wackjobs – and Christina and her supporters sound like the typical stereotype. It’s not about the horses – it’s all about them!

    Good job HorsePlus! I’ll be supporting you guys the best way I know how – by making a donation today!

  8. Hi Katt,

    This is a great question and I am glad someone brought it up.

    No, the two are in no way affiliated. I thought the same thing and sought clarification from All About Equine’s president Wendy because I had previously donated tack and supplies to them as they are close to me while NorCal is pretty far. Wendy was horrified that a rescue with such a similar name had failed to keep it’s promise to the equine under their care. I have a friend who volunteers her professional services (dental) to All About Equine in EDH and she confirmed the horses have everything they need and are well fed. They also have kept their numbers stable to ensure that no animal goes without. They are a small rescue and do not take in more than they can care for with appropriate standards.

    Thank God there are places like NorCal Equine who can keep an open door policy and care for their animals. And thank God there are small rescues like All About Equine who keep their promises and understand they should not over extend themselves.

    Thank you!

  9. Katt, after looking at two seperate websites, I don’t think the All About Equine Animal Rescue has anything to do with All About the Animals Equine Rescue.
    Wendy Digiorno runs AAE, while that Christina runs AAA.

  10. Hey guys, I live in Tucson so I haven’t heard anything about this. I’m SO sorry you are having to go through this (esp you Tawnee!). I really admire what you guys have done. I’m beginning to question just how many psycho people are in the horse world? I have met my fair share of them.. I couldn’t imagine ever taking a horse a shooting it… If you’re a real horse person you wouldn’t do that unless you were in the middle of no where and your horse broke it’s leg or something. But just because they’re “old” or “useless”? No. Not cool.

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