May 13 2004 SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) – Embattled Buellton rancher Slick Gardner filed for bankruptcy, putting the county’s $220,000 civil action against him for horse cruelty on hold. Gardner said Wednesday that he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to put “a little sanity in what’s going on here.” “The Chapter 11 reorganization puts the brakes on all of this stuff,” he said. Last year, county Animal Services officials began a neglect probe against Gardner followed by two of the largest and costliest livestock seizures in its history. Gardner was billed for the costs of the raids, seizure of the horses and the monitoring by animal services but he hasn’t paid anything to the county. “Clearly a question is, will we ever be able to collect? At this point I don’t know the answer to that,” County Counsel Michael Youngdahl said. The bankruptcy filing has now raised concerns about the foals are being born at the Gardner Ranch as well as the 450 wild horses that officials and neighbors already believe are at risk of neglect. Animal Services continues to monitor the health of the horses. The costs of looking after Gardner’s horses last year pushed Animal Services over its $2.7 million budget. It’s expected to do the same this year. Gardner, 57, claims the 167 horses seized for alleged malnutrition were well-cared for and that some of the animals had fallen ill after their feed was switched from oat hay to alfalfa. He faces 12 criminal charges that include animal cruelty, grand theft, writing bad checks and a misdemeanor count of obstructing justice. :nav Source: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/politics/8657586.htm

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