ANZA – Dozens of dogs taken from an Anza man’s ranch are now the focus of a legal struggle.
The dogs were taken by Anza community members after their owner was arrested for sawing of his horse’s head and feeding it to his dogs.
Desert animal charities have found homes for the dogs, but now Animal Control is telling them to bring them back or they can be cited for possessing stolen property.
Silver Martin of Palm Desert donated Shelby, one of the dogs whose old home wasthe Anza trailer filled with filth where dozens of animals used to live.
Former owner Jack Ziniuk was arrested late April for cutting off his horse’s head with a chainsaw and feeding it to his dogs.
Ziniuk’s neighbors took Shelby and dozens of other dogs away and sent them to homes across the Southland.
“She was so shaking and in such horrible condition,” said Martin holding her new dog. “She was just throwing up.”
Riverside County Animal Control gave Ziniuk many tickets over the years, but members of the animal rescue community wonder how these conditions could have lasted for so long.
“An enforcement agent can go out and look at the situation, and, if it’s a borderline situation and if the animal looks healthy — the animal is not suffering, it doesn’t have any signs of neglect or abuse –there’s not much we can do or the law allows our officers to do,” animal control manager Frank Corvino explained.
Animal Control lost a third of its employees this year with budget cuts and is hard pressed to enforce much with the ways the laws are written now. Animal Control also says the District Attorney’s office won’t prosecute unless it’s a “slam dunk case.”
Ziniuk pleaded not guilty, so these dogs taken by people who say they were saving them from a life of neglect and abuse are actually still Ziniuk’s property.
Corvino added, “You have to follow the law, and animals are property in this state and you just can’t go to someone’s property and taken an animal because you don’t like the situation it’s in.”
Martin said, “I am totally sicken by all of this. We want to help her. I love her. I don’t want to feel that I’ve stolen her. We need for Mr. Ziniuk to either relinquish his rights so the people that took these animals and that love them so much like I do and my husband can keep them and not feel like common criminals.”