Jill Burnell Animal Cruelty

Judge: No Ruling on Return of Burnell Horses

Warmblood breeder Jill Burnell isn’t getting her seized horses back, at least not now. A California judge decided not to adopt his tentative ruling Wednesday. It would have ordered the Marin Humane Society to return Jill Burnell’s seized horses.
The Marin Humane Society contested the tentative ruling entered by Judge Roy Chernus on Tuesday. After hearing arguments in court today, he continued the matter until August 7.
“The Marin Humane Society is happy that the horses are safe and sound and in the society’s care,” says attorney Bruce Wagman, who represents the animals services agency. “The evidence is clear.”

Four of Gray Fox Farm’s horses have been removed since late December 2012.
Maggie Weems represents Burnell and calls the seizure overreaching on the part of the humane society. She says Burnell is a top breeder, “it doesn’t help the horse or rescue industry when they go after a celebrity.”
Burnell’s broodmare Devil’s Sis – shown in much better body condition at an earlier unknown date (left) – had a Henneke Body Condition Score of 2 out of 9 upon her seizure (above), according to a veterinarian.

When asked why her client allowed the mare to get into such poor condition, Weems said the photo misrepresents the true condition of the horse. She compared the horse’s body to “an event horse competing where ribs are visible,” but the horse is healthy.
Burnell and her husband, Alex, are facing criminal charges. The pair was arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty to 5 felony counts of animal cruelty, 5 misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care, and 3 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 1.