Saturday, 23 September 2023

Animal control officer cleared in neglect case; questions about investigation remain

A recent picture of TJ, a 4-year-old stallion, who is adding weight and having his genital injury tended at Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, Calif. Photo courtesy of Raquelle Van Vleck.





LAKEPORT – An investigation has ruled that a Lake County Animal Care and Control officer was not guilty of neglect relating to the care of her horses, although questions about the case have led to the calling of an advisory committee meeting.

Terrie Flynn was the subject of the investigation.

Bill Davidson, the agency's deputy director, said that the investigation concluded that the matter was noncriminal, although he initially had given Flynn notices of violation with checks of the horses scheduled to take place in the first seek of March.

He said Animal Care and Control considers the matter closed.

However, because of concerns about the case, a meeting of the Animal Care and Control Advisory Board has been called for 1 p.m. Monday, March 22, in the Board of Supervisors chambers at the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St. in Lakeport.

Dr. Susan Cannon, a local veterinarian who chairs the committee, said she expects a larger-than-normal crowd due to interest in the case.

Flynn did not return a message seeking comment on the case.

Last month, Flynn signed over a pinto stallion named “TJ” to Animal Care and Control after he was impounded because of an injury.

Flynn had gone to Texas to visit her husband, who is the son of Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson. The couple reportedly married last year.

According to the investigative report narrative, a copy of which was obtained by Lake County News, Flynn had her horses at two separate locations in Lakeport, under the care of two different friends.

On Feb. 5, while Flynn was gone, she contacted another animal control officer and asked her to check on the horses because a person who had been caring for them was no longer able to do so.

After seeing the animals, the other animal control officer reported their condition to Davidson. In particular, there was concern about TJ, a 4-year-old stallion who had suffered an injury to his penis, likely caused by being caught in a fence, according to the report.

Davidson and the officer went to the two locations where Flynn's horses were kept, and issued with notices of violation for TJ's condition – he also was underweight – as well as for the other five horses, including another stallion and four mares, one of which is pregnant and another one that is believed to be in foal also.




TJ on his first day at Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, Calif., on Sunday, February 21, 2010. Photo courtesy of Raquelle Van Vleck.



One of Flynn's friends who was supposed to be feeding the horses had been gone for several days on vacation by the time Davidson was alerted to the situation on Feb. 5.

The other friend, which was taking care of horses including TJ, wasn't tending to the stallion's injury, telling Hodgson that she “thought Terrie was taking care of it,” and added that she wasn't very familiar with horses and hadn't been around them much since childhood.

During a phone call with Davidson on Feb. 5, Flynn said she had been caring for and cleaning the stallion's wound since he had been injured around Jan. 14, but that she hadn't had a vet examine the injury.

That same day, veterinarian Dr. Jeri Waddington was called out to see the horse and told officials that if the injury wasn't better in a few weeks the horse's penis might have to be amputated. She also recommended a feeding regimen to help TJ put on weight.

Davidson suggested to Flynn that Animal Care and Control impound TJ in order to care for his injury and she agreed, according to the report.

He spoke with Flynn again on Feb. 9. “Terrie stated she was overwhelmed financially and needed help,” and Davidson went on to suggest she sign the horse over, which she agreed to do.

Because of Flynn being a department staff member, county counsel urged the department to call in another agency.

Davidson, who previously had worked for Mendocino County, contacted Mendocino County Senior Animal Control Officer George Hodgson. The case was turned over to Hodgson and Sgt. Scott Poma on Feb. 16.

Following about a day of investigation, Hodgson's final report determined that the matter was not criminal at this time.

The final report was submitted to county administration on Feb. 18, according to County Counsel Anita Grant.




Breezy, a 14-year-old pinto mare, as she appeared on Sunday, February 21, 2010, when she arrived at Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, Calif. Photo courtesy of Raquelle Van Vleck.



Davidson said the notices of violation were written off, and he said the Mendocino County investigators did not feel there was need for followup.

Lake County News was unable to reach either Poma or Hodgson to ask for further details about the case.

Grant said her office only would come into the investigation if the investigative officer had determined there was a need for administrative review.

Flynn also told Hodgson during his investigation that she felt “overwhelmed” by the number of horses.

Horses in care doing well, according to rescue

In addition to surrendering TJ to Animal Care and Control, Davidson said Flynn gave up two other horses.

However, Raquelle Van Vleck, director of Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, which took TJ and a 14-year-old pinto mare named Breezy on Feb. 21, said Flynn had been scheduled to give a third horse to them, but did not.

Flynn initially told Van Vleck that the filly wouldn't load in the trailer, but later stated she intended to keep her. She did, however, turn over the registration papers for the other two horses after initially indicating she would withhold the documents.

Van Vleck told Lake County News that both horses in her care are “doing awesome.”

However, she said both were thin when they arrived, and both had issues with their feet, which were not noted in the investigative report.

In the last several weeks Breezy – who Van Vleck indicated was about 150 pounds underweight when she arrived, but didn't look emaciated – has put on 82 pounds. Van Vleck said the mare is putting on the weight with twice-a-day feedings of hay and grain, but nothing excessive.

Breezy – who Flynn had for four years – is being treated for thrush, a bacterial infection of the hooves that can result from standing in unclean conditions. Thrush can cause soundness issues, Van Vleck explained. The mare had thrush in all four feet when she arrived, with her left front foot requiring special care.

She had a wound on her cheek which Flynn said she thought was from inside the trailer, according to Van Vleck.

The mare's feet also were extremely long. “It's hard to tell how long it had been since her feet had been trimmed,” said Van Vleck, estimating it was between six and eight months. Some experts advocate trimming between six and eight weeks or slightly longer.

TJ, who Flynn had since he was born, also is being treated for thrush, Van Vleck said. Animal Care and Control had his hooves trimmed before he was turned over to rescue. He's also gained about 52 pounds.

In addition he had a “pretty severe” case of rainrot, which is a bacteria that causes lesions on a horse's body. The condition is blamed on causes such as insect bites and unclean stable conditions. A picture of TJ showed large lesions on his sides.

As for his genital injury, it's healing and is being cleaned and treated twice a day. Van Vleck said it will take time for the swelling to go down completely, and her vet has said it may not return to normal size. TJ is scheduled to be castrated April 3.

A trainer will begin working with both horses on Wednesday to assess their training levels, with the hope that they will soon be ready for adoption, Van Vleck said.

Van Vleck, who works with animal control agencies in five different counties, said she now is caring for 26 horses.

“People need to know what's going on,” she said, adding there have to be consequences for people who don't properly care for their horses.

For more about Rehorse Rescue, visit .




Since arriving at Rehorse Rescue in Jamestown, Calif., Breezy the mare has put on more than 80 pounds. Photo courtesy of Raquelle Van Vleck.



The full report on Flynn's case, with names of witnesses redacted, is posted below, with some grammatical and spelling corrections.


Reported by: Hodgson, George P.

Reviewed by: Poma, Scott J.

On 2/12/2010, William Davidson contacted me by phone. Davidson told me he was the deputy director of Lake County Animal Care and Control. He went on to say he had been investigating an animal cruelty case which involved an animal control officer for Lake County. He asked me if I would take the case over to allow for an investigation independent from his office. I arranged to meet with him on 2/16/10 at the Lake County Animal Shelter. I then hung up the phone.

On 2/16/2010, at approximately 0900 hours I arrived at the Lake County Animal Shelter, 4949 Helbush Drive, Lakeport. There I contacted Davidson. He told me the following in essence:

On 2/5/2010, he was informed by Lake County Animal Control Officer XXXX that horses, which belonged to Animal Control Officer Terrie Flynn, were underweight. He was also told, by XXXX, that one of the horses had what appeared to be an injury to its penis. He told me he went, with XXXX, to one location (XXXX Patocchi Court, Lakeport), where he found a tri-colored, intact male, paint, with an injury to its penis. He told me he contacted Flynn by phone. He said Flynn was out of the state at this time. He told Flynn the horse needed immediate veterinary treatment. Flynn agreed and admitted she had been treating the injury before she left out of state. He told me there were three other horses on that property which appeared thin. He told me he issued Notice of Violation numbers #000790 and 000792 for the injured horse and the other three horses a that property. He told me he transported the horse to the Lake County Animal Shelter, with the permission of Flynn. He also told me Flynn had accepted all costs associated with the horse's impoundment and the cost of a vet exam. He told me that once there, the horse was treated by DVM Waddington. Davidson told me Flynn had sought treatment for the horse's injury at Animal Hospital of Lake County prior to the horse being impounded.

I asked Davidson if Flynn was a member of the public and he received a similar complaint how would he proceed. He told me he would work with them to improve the care of their animals as feed and water were at both locations and provided. He told me he believed this was not a criminal offense and he would not file criminal charges in similar circumstances. Davidson also admitted that Flynn was cooperating with this investigation and suggestions of possibly removing some of the horses. Davidson gave me a copy of the notes given to him by DVM Jerri Waddington regarding the horse.

This record indicates that on 1/14/2010 Flynn contacted Waddington regarding the injured horse. The notes indicated Waddington prescribed Bute (pain management) for the horse. The instructions indicate to [keep] the area clean using Nolvasan (anti-septic) and furacin ointment to keep it moist.

Davidson told me, he was then alerted by XXXX [the other officer], on 2/5/[2010], about a second location at XXX Pine Ridge Road, where two other horses belonging to Flynn were located. Davidson and XXXX then went to that second location. He told [me] there he found two horses, which appeared to be underweight. He told me he issued Notice of Violation # 000791 for the horses on that property. Davidson gave me copies of all the Notice of Violations he left for Flynn.

Davidson went on to say that on 2/09/2010 Flynn signed over ownership of the injured horse to Lake County Animal Care. He gave me a copy of the owner surrender form, as well as several photos he had taken of the horses, feed at the horses' locations, and the condition of the stables in which the horses were kept. Davidson also gave me copies of the Notice of Violations given to XXXX. He also gave me a copy of his investigation into the matter.

At this time, Sergeant Scott Poma of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office met us. Davidson, Poma and I then went to an area to the rear north of the animal shelter. There I saw an intact male, paint, approximately four years of age. I saw that its penis was extended and had a large swollen area approximately 3 to 4 inches from the tip. I asked Davidson what happened to the horses. He said he believed it cut its penis on a fence. I asked Davidson what the horse's name was. He told me “T.J.” I then performed a body conditioning score on the horse. The results are as follows: neck-3, withers-2, loin-3, tailhead-4, left ribs-3, right ribs-3, shoulder-3. Average score of 3, defined as thin.

At this time, Animal Control Officer XXXX arrived. She told me she had been contacted by Flynn, on 2/05/2010. Flynn told her the person who had been caring for the horses was no longer able to, so she asked if XXXX [the other officer] could take care of them until she returned. XXXX said when she arrived at the property (XXXX Patocchi Court) she was alarmed by the condition of the injured horse and the other horses there. She told me she did not believe the horses were being cared for properly, as they were all thin. She told me she then went to a second location (XXX Pine Ridge Road). There she said she saw two other horses owned by Flynn. She told me those horses were also thin. She said she notified Davidson of the conditions of all the horses at this time.

Poma and I then interviewed Animal Control Officer Flynn at the Lake County Animal Shelter. Flynn told us she owned a total of six horses prior, to relinquishing “T.J.” She said she had contacted the vet (Waddington) as soon as she noticed the injury (1/14/10). She told us she suspected the horse had cut its penis on a fence. She went on to say “T.J.” “has always been thin,” however since the injury “T.J.” continued to lose weight. She told me she had been following the vet's recommendations for the treatment of the injured horse. She said she went to Texas the week of 2/1/2010. She told me she made arrangements for XXXX [a friend] to care for the horses in her absence. When she found that XXXX was unable to do this, she asked XXXX [the other officer]. She told me she spent approximately $400 a month for feed for the horses. She told me she bought the feed at Dave's Hay Barn. She provided me with an itemized receipt from Dave's Hay Barn, This indicates purchases from 11/11/2007 until 2/13/2010. The record showed feed was purchased by Flynn every two weeks. Flynn told me she felt “overwhelmed” by the number of horses she owned since her husband has been stationed in Texas. She told me she had made arrangements to give two more horses away. She said she planned to do this during this same week. She went on to say that she had been “around horses her whole life” and felt confident she knew how to care for the animals.

I then took Flynn in my work vehicle to XXX Pine Ridge Road. There I saw one adult red dun mare and one adult brown and white paint located in a barn on the northwest of the property. I asked Flynn to halter the paint horse and bring it out of the barn, which she did.

Flynn told me this horse's name was “Breeze.” She told me this horse was a mare, 14 years of age. She told me she owned the horse for four years. I then performed a body conditioning score on the horses. The results are as follows: neck-4, withers-3, loin-5, tailhead-5, left ribs-4, right ribs-3, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.42 – defined as moderately thin/moderate.

I next asked Flynn to halter the red dun quarter horse and bring it out of the barn, which she did. Flynn told me this horse was a mare, 4 years of age, named “Mia.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-4, withers-4, loin-7, tailhead-5, left ribs-5, right ribs-5, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.8 – defined as moderately thin/moderate.

I next looked inside the barn. There I saw bales of alfalfa hay and hay pellets. I saw that each stable had an automatic watering system for the horses. I also saw that these were the only two horses located at this barn. I then took photos of the horses, feed and conditions of the stables. I saw there was an accumulation of feces in both stalls which I told Flynn to clean at the end of her shift, which she agreed to do.

Flynn and I then went to XXXX Patocchi Court. There I saw three black and white paint horses. I asked Flynn to halter one of the horses and bring it out of the barn, which she did. While doing this one of the horses, a 2-year-old filly, ran free from the barn. I was unable to safely catch this horse to perform a body conditioning score. I saw that this horse was not obviously thin. The attitude of this horse was alert and playful. Flynn told me this horse was named “Roxy.”

Flynn then brought me a pregnant, black and white paint mare, 5 years of age named “Dallas.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-6, withers-3, loin-5, tailhead-5, left ribs-8, right ribs-8, shoulder-5. Average score of 6.3 – defined as moderately fleshy.

We next went into the barn area. There I saw a black and white, 12-year-old Arab-paint cross, named “Twister.” I then performed a body conditioning score on this horse. The results are as follows: neck-5, withers-4, loin-5, tailhead-4, left ribs-5, left ribs-5, shoulder-4. Average score of 4.5.

While doing this, I saw that the hooves on this horse were in need of trimming. I asked Flynn who her farrier was. She said she did it herself. I told her to trim the hoofs in the near future. I then took photos of the horses and this condition in which they were kept. I also photographed several bales of alfalfa hay and two 55 gallon containers, which contained hay pellets. I saw the horses were provided with large plastic containers which held water.

Flynn and I then returned to the Lake County Animal Shelter.

I then contacted DVM Jeri Waddington by phone. She told me she had been contacted by Flynn on 1/14/10 regarding the injured horse. She told me she had Flynn as a client for the last five years. She told me that in her visits to the horses she had not seen any evidence that Flynn was not a responsible pet owner. I thanked her and hung up the phone.

I then left the Lake County Animal Shelter.

When I returned tot he Ukiah station I placed the vets records, feed receipts, body conditioning scores and photos into the Ukiah evidence.

Recommendation: non criminal at this time.


Reported by: Hodgson, George P.

Entered by: Hodgson, George P.

Reviewed by: Poma, Scott J.

Date: February 16, 2010

To: George Hodgson

Sr. Animal Control Officer

Mendocino County Sheriff's Office

From: William Davidson

Deputy Director Lake County Animal Care & Control

Subject: Terrie Flynn's Horses

On Feb. 5, 2010 I went with Officer XXXX to investigate an alleged complaint of animal neglect by one of our officers, Terrie Flynn, at two locations in Lakeport: Patocchi Court and Pine Ridge Drive. The complaint alleged that one of our officers was out of town and not properly caring for her six horses.

We arrived on Patocchi Court at approximately 10:15 a.m. Officer XXXX And I viewed four horses on the property: 1) Black and white pinto stallion, 2) black and white paint mare (in foal), 3) black and white paint filly (yearling), 4) brown and white pinto stallion, which also had a severe injury to its penis. All the horses were slightly underweight, the stallion with the injury more so than the others. There were three bales of hay and some alfalfa pellets present on the property. Officer XXXX and I both felt the injury to the stallion's penis would require immediate attention. We then left the area and proceeded to Pine Ridge Drive.

At approximately 11 a.m. We arrived on Pine Ridge Drive and viewed the two other horses involved in the complaint: 5) sorrel quarter horse, possibly in foal, 6) tricolor pinto mare. These horses were stalled with automatic waters. Both horses appeared to be slightly underweight, but several bales of hay and alfalfa pellets were present in the barn.

Officer XXXX and I then went and spoke with the property owner on Pine Ridge Drive, Mr. XXXX. Mr. XXXX stated his wife XXXX had been feeding the horses (#5, #6) until she left for Australia on Feb. 2, 2010 (the same date that Terrie left for vacation). He further stated that he was unaware that Terrie was out of town and thought she had been coming to feed them. Mr. XXXX agreed to begin feeding the horses twice daily until Terrie returned.

I then called and spoke with Terrie Flynn, who was in Texas at the time. I told Terrie about the complaint and the concern I had for the injured stallion (#4). Terrie stated that the horse had injured its penis on a fence wire several weeks earlier and that she had been cleaning and caring for it since. She also stated that Dr. Waddington was aware of the injury. I then asked Terrie if Dr. Waddington had ever seen the injury, to which she replied “No.” I advised Terrie that both Officer XXXX and I felt it needed toe seen immediately by a vet. Terrie agreed to call her vet out that day (Feb. 5, 2010) and have an exam completed. I next asked Terrie who had been caring for her horses while she was away. Terrie stated her friend XXXX had been caring for the horses on Patocchi court and that XXXX, Mr. XXXX's wife, had been caring for the horses on Pine Ridge Drive. I advised Terrie that XXXX had left for Australia the same day she had left for Texas, to which she replied, “That's not good!” I then informed her that Mr. XXXX would take over the feeding until she returned.

Once back at the office I contacted XXXX, the caregiver to Terrie's four horses on Patocchi Court. XXXX told me that Terrie had instructed her to feed the horses once daily, which she had been doing around 3 p.m. each day once she got off work. I asked XXXX to increase the feedings to twice daily until Terrie returned. She stated that she would. I then asked XXXX about the injury to the stallion's penis. XXXX stated that she was aware of the injury, but thought that Terrie was taking care of it. XXXX added that she wasn't too familiar with horses, that it had been since she was a kid that she had truly dealt with them.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. XXXX with Dr. Waddington on Patocchi Court to examine the injury to the brown and white pinto stallion (#4). Dr. Waddington indicated the penis was swollen and infected and prescribed antibiotics as well as instructions to clean it twice daily. She stated that if it wasn't better in a few weeks, it may have to be amputated. She also recommended a feeding regimen to help increase his weight.

Due to the medications and the vet's instructions for care to the injured stallion (#4), coupled with XXXX's inexperience with horses, I called Terrie back and stated if she was willing to pay our board fee, we could impound the horse and care for it here at the shelter until she returned. She agreed.

On Feb. 9, 2010 I personally spoke with Terrie about the situation with her horses. Terrie stated she was overwhelmed financially and needed help. Since she had already paid for the continuing vet care on the injured stallion (#4), I suggested she might want to consider signing it over to the department. She could then work on finding homes for several of the other horses. Terrie agreed and signed an owner surrender form pertaining to the injured stallion (#4), which we already had in our care. I then issued Terrie two notices of violation (one for each location) stating that she needed to work on bringing her horses' weight up and that we would re-check her progress in three weeks.

By advice of county counsel, on Feb. 16, 2010, this entire case was turned over to Sr. Animal Control Officer George Hodgson and Sgt. Scott Poma from Mendocino County.


William Davidson

Deputy Director Lake County Animal Care and Control

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