Inside a dark, cramped trailer with food and indescribable garbage just laying about, Jack Ziniuk slept. Joining him inside the trailer were around 20 dogs, cats and birds.
He owns an Anza ranch on Upper Tule Road.
Dogs are bred here. They lived in these cages. The two employees here say it all started off well. But, with age, Ziniuk couldn’t afford to pay for this place. The dogs went hungry.
When a horse of his suffered malnutrition, sheriff’s deputies charged Ziniuk with trying to put the horse down with a sledgehammer.
“He didn’t even have enough strength to get that accomplished for one. Two, the way he was wielding it, he missed a couple of times. It missed the body. You could hear the thumps. I knew it was alive at this point because I could still see its tail clearly moving. It was terrible. When he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to do it that way, he told John, go get the chainsaw,” said employee Phillip Thomas.
Deputies arrested Ziniuk. The 64-year-old could face five years if convicted. He pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges.
We asked Thomas, “If you worked here, why didn’t you tell the cops?”
He answered, “Well, animal control has been here. They’ve know all this stuff. They’ve been trying to shut him down for so long. I don’t know the legalities of that, what held this up for so long.
We asked Thomas another question, “So, you would see Animal Control but they did nothing?”
Thomas’ answer was, “Nothing. They came here many times. They wrote him tickets that he was never intending to pay anyway.”
Stephanie Weyls now has 13 of Ziniuk’s dogs. She says many of these breeding dogs were found in various states of neglect.
Weyls said, “I received a call from a friend of mine in town that has a veterinary supply place and she told me the situation about Jack that he had been arrested and that the authorities, the animal control, were telling them to disperse the animals and find them safe places to go.”
Anza residents came in and rescued many of Ziniuk’s dogs. Now, animal control wants to take them to a county shelter where they may be euthanized if deemed “unadoptable.”
“They allow people like Jack to continue to make puppies and abuse his animals and breed indiscriminately. The small private rescue that care about animals are the ones that are taking the hits,” said Weyls.
Animal control says people took these dogs illegally and anybody who has them is breaking the law. But, Weyls and others say they will not hand over these dogs. Late Thursday afternoon, animal control confronted Weyls and told her may forward information to the District Attorney’s office for possible theft charges.
Stay with News Channel 3 for more developments on this case.