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Officers seize dozens of starving farm animals from ‘backyard butcher’ in Santa Clarita

The Gentle Barn

Rescuers said this horse suffered from starvation, sores and infections. The horse's owner was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.

A total of 58 haggard and malnourished farm animals have been rescued from a so-called backyard butcher on a property near Santa Clarita, and authorities are condemning the owner for what they call an especially severe case of animal cruelty.

KTLA reports that Los Angeles County Animal Control officers raided the property on Monday and seized five cows, two dozen goats and sheep, 19 fowl, one cat and one horse.

A backyard butcher is someone who legally owns farm animals for personal use and consumption. However, abusing the animals is illegal -- and selling them for profit, as this homeowner allegedly was doing, is not allowed.

The unidentified owner has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. 

The animals were horribly undernourished and their living conditions unsanitary, officials said. As of Wednesday all the animals had been transferred to The Gentle Barn, a rescue facility in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks said the animals were suffering from fevers, infections and wracking coughs. She described the horse as “a walking skeleton,” and Gentle Barn members later wrote on their blog that “She is hundreds of pounds underweight and every bone protruding, covered with mud, she has hair falling off in clumps, sores on her face and body, a huge wound on her leg that is infected down to the bone, both eyes are infected, her knees are swollen and we are fighting hard to save her life.”

In another blog entry, they stated that the entire incident marks “a huge victory in shutting down backyard butchers, their extreme cruelty and their tainted meat.” Donations to help the animals can be made by going to the Gentle Barn website.

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