One of the most horrifying Animal Cruelty cases in California history, referred to as the “Graveyard Horse Case,” made International headlines 2 years ago when twenty-eight horses and one dog were found dead, unburied and scattered amongst the pasture grounds where the twenty-eight deceased horses and thirty six surviving horses once roamed together. The remaining horses were transferred to The Grace Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission includes offering assistance to animal control agencies with animal cruelty cases such as these. For months, The Grace Foundation sought justice for the innocent horses at the center of this case.
Finally, in October 2011, seventy-one felony charges were filed against the owner of the horses, Mr. Dwight Bennett. Charges that are still pending today.
While the case started as a battle of saving horses, The Grace Foundation says it has now become much bigger; a battle of responsibility and accountability by those who have sworn to uphold the law and protect the rights of the community.
For more than two years The Grace Foundation say they have carried the entire burden of all the costs, debt, and liability associated with the care of the now forty-two horses and currently is in the middle of a costly civil action to resolve the ongoing battle of determining ownership of the horses and to recover the costs and fees they were promised would be reimbursed for the care of the now forty two horses.
Disturbing new evidence has emerged regarding the ownership of the horses and the handling of the removal, relinquishment and transfer of thirty-six horses on August 26, 2011. The Grace Foundation has been advised by local law enforcement and prosecuting agencies that based on contradicting testimony recently provided in the depositions of the key individuals involved in the investigation and case the horses are either; evidence in the seventy one criminal charges filed by Lassen County District attorney, or, the horses were illegally removed and transferred to The Grace Foundation on August 26, 2011 and The Grace Foundation is in possession of stolen property – the forty two horses and has been for two years.
Now the non-profit organization is reaching out to all Government agencies requesting an investigation into this case. The Foundation needs a third party Government investigation to immediately look into this case to make a determination as to the legality of the removal of the horses and confirmation as to whether or not the horses are in fact evidence in the criminal charges against Mr. Bennett. Time is running out for this non-profit, the horses at the center of this case and sadly time is also running out for the one hundred fifty rescued horses, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, dogs and cats that call Grace home. Without a determination of what laws were violated (if any) and who is accountable for the massive financial burden that the Grace Foundation has had to shoulder, The Grace Foundation will not survive, nor will the animals that rely on Grace for their care.
The local law enforcement that have advised The Grace Foundation of the apparent criminal acts, have also advised Grace that because the crime(s) would have taken place in Lassen County, it would be Lassen County that would need to investigate the allegations. In addition, Lassen County needs to confirm or deny that the horses are part of the seventy one felony charges brought in this case.
The Foundation says it has reached out numerous times to Lassen County District Attorney Bob Burns for the answer to this question, but Mr. Burns has refused to provide the answer that The Grace Foundation and the community is legally entitled to have.
They are also asking for the reason Mr. Burns has not provided this simple answer. The Foundation surmises the answer may have something to do with the 1.7 million dollar lien that the County of Lassen would be legally responsible for paying if the horses are in fact a part of the cruelty charges.
The Grace Foundation has continued to care for these horses, even though doing so has finally devastated Grace for one reason only: to ensure that, regardless of anything else, the innocent victims in this ordeal – the forty-two horses – are not simply disposed of in an effort to alleviate liability of the parties ultimately responsible for their care. But The Grace Foundation says they can not continue to carry this burden any longer and these potential criminal allegations involving possible fraud, conspiracy, perjury and grand theft are the final straw.
Until today, Grace’s requests had fallen on deaf ears, but late this afternoon, The Grace Foundation received confirmation from a National District Attorney association that based on the information detailed in the criminal charges filed by Lassen County in this case, the horses in Grace’s possession are part of the criminal charges, therefore evidence in the case.
The Grace Foundation is pleading with the media and community to spread the word about this story and help demand that this case is investigated and resolved before more damage is done to The Grace Foundation and to the animals.
The Grace Foundation is also asking for assistance with keeping the animals fed until this case is resolved. The Grace Foundation provides one million pounds of feed to the rescued animals at Grace each year. The community can help by donating $25.00 to help feed a horse for a week.
For additional details and information, contact Beth DeCaprio at (916) 396-2768 [email protected]
See Also previous Graveyard Horse stories: