MEDIA RELEASE: Thousands of Signatures Delivered to San Diego DA About Severe Horse & Dog Neglect

MEDIA RELEASE: Thousands of Signatures Delivered to San Diego DA About Severe Horse & Dog Neglect

SAN DIEGO (May 10, 2024) – On Thursday, May 9, In Defense of Animals and Los Angeles Alliance for Animals (LAAA) delivered a letter signed by 12,343 people to San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and Deputy District Attorney Eric Bodnar urging them to prosecute Debra Barkley and Craig Netwig for allegations of animal cruelty related to dogs and dozens of horses at two properties they own near the city of Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County.

On March 27, 2023, an emaciated horse who was skin and bones was found dying on Barkley and Netwig’s property. An animal control officer responded but did not immediately euthanize the horse. The horse languished for two hours, and a bystander who identified themselves as a veterinarian offered to euthanize the horse but was refused, which resulted in prolonged distress for the elderly mare before she died. At that time, the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services had promised to conduct a thorough investigation into the situation, but no necropsy was performed on the horse.

WATCH: Mare dies in the mud, March 27, 2023

CBS 8 News reported the death and severely neglectful conditions, including multiple injured and emaciated horses, lack of regular food, and horses forced to stand in deep mud and uncleared feces. While reporting from the street, a man on the property pointed a gun at a news photographer.

More than a year has passed since animal services’ investigation began, but there has been no legal action or change in the animals’ dire state. Another horse was found dead on January 24, 2024, in less than a year, and serious concerns remain for the animals who remain there.

Photos from January 2024 show a second horse and one of several underweight dogs who run loose.

Animal advocates are increasingly frustrated over the ongoing abuse at this site and the neglect of multiple horses and dogs at another property owned by Barkley. They have documented horses living in filthy conditions with no adequate protection against the sun and rain, which state law requires.

Video evidence shows one horse with several painful, untreated wounds, and another bleeding freely from an untreated leg wound. Horses in pasture are forced to stand in deep manure which can cause lameness and death. Others are chronically locked in stalls, and rarely get out.

“Animal services has failed these animals” said Zohra Fahim, Founder of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals. “We are urging District Attorney Summer Stephan and Deputy District Attorney Eric Bodnar to listen to the 12,343 individuals who are urging them to prosecute Debra Barkley and stop the neglect of horses and dogs on Artesian Rd. Cruelty towards horses is unacceptable, and breaches of the law cannot be allowed to continue because animal services is in disarray — the District Attorney's office has more than enough information to prosecute these abusers and really needs to start stepping it up.”

“It’s incredibly frustrating to have so much evidence of animals suffering while officials refuse to take any meaningful action or remove them from a situation where they’re clearly not being properly cared for,” said Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Senior Campaigner. “We are making sure District Attorney Stephan is aware of how many people care about the dogs and horses in this case, so she will right this wrong and use the law to prosecute the perpetrators before any more horses die from neglect.”

Members of the public can learn more and sign the letter to advocate for the animals in this case:


### NOTES ###


Zohra Fahim, Los Angeles Alliance for Animals (LAAA), 619-964-0981,

Fleur Dawes, In Defense of Animals, 415-879-6879,

Los Angeles Alliance for Animals is one of the only equine protection groups in Los Angeles dedicated to eliminating horse and pony abuse. Its groundbreaking work has brought exposure to the unjust and unfair treatment of the geriatric ponies and farm animals at Griffith Park and Pony Ride and Petting Zoo, and the group is committed to getting justice and ensuring other animals are never again neglected in the City of Los Angeles, and the rest of the nation.

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as its hands-on rescue facilities in California, India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.