By Deb Murphy
More than 150 burros, seven mules and nine horses were removed from the Wild Burro Rescue and Preservation Project in Olancha. Project operator Diane Chontas has been arrested.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Department conducted the seizure. The rescue took two days to move the animals to a safe location where they were given veterinary care.
According to Mark Meyers of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in San Angelo, Texas, conditions at the Olancha operation were “indescribable.” Six of the animals had to be euthanized. “This did not need to happen,” he said in a phone interview.
Photos on Meyers’ website show one of the rescued burros with crippling, over-grown hooves. In the wild, rough terrain keeps equine hooves somewhat under control. In captivity with no farrier care, the hooves grow out, often curling up.
Meyers pulled together five haulers with a 15-25 animal capacity from Arizona, Texas and Virginia to move the animals to what he described in a press release as a “secure holding facility.” The burros will be microchipped and tested for common equine diseases.
Peaceful Valley is a 172-acre ranch; Meyers’ operation includes sanctuaries for older burros and donkeys as well as adoption centers across the country.