Lane County horse training center owner arrested

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A total of 61 horses were removed Wednesday from a property in Creswell.

The owner of that property, Gwenyth Davies, was arrested and cited in lieu of custody for second-degree animal neglect, a felony.

Lane County Sheriff’s Office deputies went to DeLeonardo Training Center on Camas Swale Road and seized the horses that were severely neglected. Lane County Animal Services and a number of community organizations assisted.

Davies, who resides at the property with her husband, Michael DeLeonardo, has had previous contacts with Animal Services regarding horses in poor condition in 2018, the county said at the time of the seizure. As a result of those contacts, she complied willingly and the horses of concern were brought to minimum care standards. An additional report of neglect was made in September; however, information to support further investigation was not provided.

The current investigation began when Lane County Animal Services received photographs Oct. 16 of horses that appeared to be severely neglected, the county said. The photographs were provided by Emerald Valley Equine Rescue after it received multiple complaints from people who used to board their horses with Davies.

Because of the large number of involved horses, Lane County teamed with the Oregon Humane Society and rescue organizations to begin identifying partners who could help with the evaluation, removal, treatment and housing of so many large animals. The horses were being taken to the Lane Events Center.

Sound Equine Options, a Gresham-based rescue organization, will ultimately transport the horses to its facility near Portland, the county has said. DeLeonardo Training Center offers boarding, training, lessons and camps, according to its website. A stall to board a horse is advertised at $450 per month and is said to include twice daily feedings of grass and alfalfa mix hay, as well as daily cleaning.

The ownership of the horses seized has not been established.

Lisa Pagano, a woman who had posted a positive review on the training center’s Facebook page earlier this year, said late Wednesday, “When I had my horses there prior to the situation, (she took) extremely good care of them and they were very well-trained when they came back to my farm. They stayed very safe and they were completely different horses when they came back to me.

“She’s a very good trainer; I think she just fell on hard times. I am very sad to hear that this happened to her.”

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