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Hearing officer finds Loomis animal seizure justified

Owner says she had just gone out to buy food for animals
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An administrative hearing officer said last week’s seizure of dozens of animals from a Loomis property was “absolutely justified” while the animal owner disagreed with the methods of humane officers. At 3 p.m. Tuesday Administrative Hearing Officer Jo McCormack heard testimony from Rosemary Frieborn and Curt Ransom, humane officers with the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills, as well as from Jenifer Gabor, who is renting the property at 5359 Citrus Colony in Loomis. Before the hearing began, Gabor asked that media not take any photographs of her and that McCormack seal her identity. McCormack said she didn’t have the authority to seal the hearing or ask the media to leave the hearing because she was not serving in the capacity of a superior court judge. The hearing was open to the public and others were in attendance. Gabor said she didn’t appreciate the media attention she has received. “I’m not appreciating what came up to my name and my identity,” she said. McCormack said the hearing was only regarding whether or not the seizure was justified and she advised Gabor not to talk too much about the incident. “My advice just as another person is just to say as little as possible on the other issues,” McCormack said. McCormack explained that the hearing was civil, not criminal and was being recorded. Ransom and Frieborn explained how they first received word of the property and that they visited it several times before the animal seizure took place. On July 12, after obtaining a search warrant, the humane officers said they removed 37 goats, 19 sheep, 14 dogs, one bird and five 700-pound pigs from the property. Frieborn said many of the dogs were listless and had burs and fleas, and some of them had welts as though they had been tied up. One German shepherd had to have a tumor removed from her swollen abdomen after treating various bite wounds on her body. A Chihuahua had to have a placenta removed from a past birth. One puppy later died from parvovirus, Frieborn said. Ransom said the officers’ main concern was the environment in which the animals were living, with building supplies including barbed wire, tin and wood strewn across part of the back pasture; temperatures in the barn where the dogs were living exceeding 100 degrees; feces covering part of the barn with no potable water or food in sight; old bagels and bread laying on the ground of both the barn and trailer where the small dogs were being kept; and bones, a dead chicken and an empty water trough in the area where the pigs were living. “The animals had already been removed (from the barn) by the time I got in there, and I could barely breathe,” Ransom said. Ransom and Frieborn showed photographs they had taken on the property of the various areas the described. Gabor said on the day the seizure happened she had just gone out to buy food for all her animals and when she got home at 2:45 p.m., she was told not to associate with the animals. Gabor said Frieborn visited her property initially without her permission. The pictures humane officers took might also not reflect the environment and condition of the animals accurately, Gabor said. “The pictures, they could be deceiving and they could make it as awful as possible on the animals she mentioned,” Gabor said. Gabor said the animals were being cared for twice a day and that the 700-pound pigs had food and water. “They were not malnourished,” she said. “They were fed well and good food.” Gabor presented a letter from a neighbor saying her animals looked well taken care of and receipts from the feed store from July 5 and 12. McCormack asked where the food was if Gabor had purchased it before the humane officers visited the property. “It was in the barn, but they didn’t see it,” Gabor said. Gabor said her dogs were allowed to run free when she was home, and the only reason they were in the barn when the seizure took place is that she had gone out to get food for the animals and she didn’t want them running free. Frieborn said she had a witness who said they had never seen the dogs running free. Gabor said someone else was renting space from her to house some of their animals. “But when they heard we had trouble with the animals, they disappeared off the face of the earth,” she said. McCormack ultimately said she agreed with the seizure. “Based on the evidence I have received, and the pictures and the documents, I find the seizure was absolutely justified,” she said. Frieborn said she had some advice for people interested in buying new animals. “Go to the animal shelter, go to a 501(c)(3) animal rescue group and find your next pets,” she said. “Don’t go to Craigslist. Don’t meet somebody in a parking lot.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com