Seized horses recovering; deputy to urge charges filed

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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QUILCENE –– As four horses seized for their welfare recover at a rehabilitation center, Deputy Alex Mintz, Jefferson County’s animal control officer, plans to recommend charges of animal cruelty in the second degree be filed against their owner.

Mintz said he expects to recommend soon that
the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
file charges against Leonard Sarin.

“I will be recommending the prosecutor go ahead with charges of animal cruelty,” Mintz said.

Sarin did not immediately return calls requesting comment Thursday.

Mintz seized the horses March 28 at 187 Covington Drive, Chimacum, after receiving reports that they were starving.

Veterinarian Jan Richards of Chimacum examined them the next day and said they were severely malnourished and dehydrated.

The three mares and a gelding are at Center Valley Animal Rescue, 11900 Center Road near Quilcene and are gaining weight, Director Sara Penhallegon said Thursday.

“We’ve got them on antibiotics and are slowly introducing more foods into their diets,” Penhallegon said.

They gained about 20 pounds of water weight in the first 24 hours at the center, mostly from rehydration.

They quickly lost the water weight and have started to put on healthy weight, Penhallegon added.

She said the horses Thursday had not eaten all their food from the previous night, which means they were full — a good sign.

Paige, the 20-something mare in the most dire shape when seized, fought back when Penhallegon tried to administer eye medicine Thursday.

“An attitude is a good thing at this point,” Penhallegon said.

Mintz said the horses looked fine when he and other deputies were called to help corral them after they escaped from Sarin’s property in January.

“I saw the horses, and they didn’t look that bad at all,” Mintz said.

Sarin had kept the horses penned on a 5-acre plot he was renting, Mintz said.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had ordered Sarin in the past to find new homes for horses, said Mintz, who added that Sarin had as many as 30 horses on a 26.5-acre piece of property.

A decision on what charges to file will be made by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Mintz said the death of one or more of the horses would move the cruelty charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Penhallegon was optimistic all four will survive.

The rescue center is feeding the horses a diet of senior grain, pelleted beet pulp and a mixture of timothy alfalfa and high-quality grass hay, Penhallegon said.

She said the four are eating about 7.5 gallons of grain and beet pulp a day, in addition to hay.

Since the center runs entirely on donations, Penhallegon is seeking assistance to keep feeding the horses.

Visiting hours are the first Friday of each month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To volunteer, donate or for more information, visit the center’s website at, phone 360-765-0598 or email

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: April 04. 2013 5:57PM
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