S’mass resident told county `months’ ago about horses
The three horses rescued from the brink of starvation last week are beginning to recover, but by all accounts they’ve got a long road ahead before they’re in full health.
News of their recovery comes as allegations surface regarding Pitkin County Animal Control officer ReRe Baker’s handling of the situation.
Moon Run Ranch owner Holly McLain said yesterday all three horses, including a 3-year-old mare that one local vet said was just a week away from death, are eating and behaving normally.
The horses were spotted about 10 days ago by Nicole Lewis, a client of McLain’s, standing by the fence in a pasture on Snowmass Creek Road.
It was apparent that all three had gone months without any support. They were thin, scratched and bruised. When help finally arrived last Saturday, they were taken to McLain’s equestrian facility located further up Snowmass Creek.
McLain said yesterday all three horses – a 2-year-old gelding named Cowboy, a 3-year-old mare named Flaka and a 6-year-old gelding named Unkept Secret – were eating normally and that their digestive systems appeared to be in good shape.
Kara Klein, a resident of the Shield O Terrace subdivision on Snowmass Creek Road, said she contacted Baker last October after she noticed the mare had a long gash on its left front leg. At that time, the horses appeared to be well fed, but it was apparent they needed more attention.
“It was a pretty severe gash,” she said. “The horse was putting its weight on that leg, which is a good sign, but it was crusted over with blood and mud. If it was my horse, I would have had the vet out there right away.”
Baker left Klein a message saying she would look into the situation. “I thought everything was taken care of, but apparently nothing was done,” Klein said.
Baker did not respond to two messages left this week requesting comment. Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said Baker has spent most of the week in meetings and hasn’t been available to respond.
Klein said she also left three messages in October with Mike Gerbaz, the midvalley resident who leases the pasture as a summer grazing area for his own horses, but he never answered her messages.
Gerbaz told The Aspen Times earlier this week that he had reluctantly agreed to let the horses onto the pasture after their owner, Conrado Gonzales, was deported. He said he was told the horses would be picked up before winter, and that he hadn’t been to the pasture in months.
“It was disturbing to see the cover of the paper [Tuesday] and realize those were the horses I called about three months ago,” said Klein.
An account was set up earlier this week by Vicki Veltus at Alpine Bank in Basalt. Veltus said community support has been overwhelming. She’s aware of about $1,300 that’s been donated or pledged to help cover the cost of boarding and caring for the horses.
Donations can be sent to Alpine Bank, PO Box 349, Basalt, CO 81621.
McLain said it appears likely that she will be able to continue caring for the horses until members of the Gonzales family make other arrangements.
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