Ranch owner, accused of animal abuse, offered deal

A 63-year-old Half Moon Bay woman accused of neglecting animals on her ranch received a plea bargain offer from prosecutors Thursday, the latest in a drawn-out case stemming from allegations of animal abuse from two years ago.

Janet Wherry, owner of Triple Springs Ranch in Half Moon Bay, is facing four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and one count of forging a receipt. The charges were prompted by a Peninsula Humane Society investigation in August 2005, launched after an anonymous tip, in which sheep with open wounds under Wherry’s care were found with maggots.

There have been several delays in court proceedings, partly because Wherry has gone through three different attorneys. On Thursday, prosecutors formally offered a deal of 20 days in jail, but Wherry has yet to decide whether she will take it before her scheduled July 2 trial date.

“We’re ready to get this off the ground,” Deputy District Attorney Sean Dabel said.

The district attorney initially filed two misdemeanor counts in July last year, but court proceedings were delayed after Wherry fired her attorney in December. In May, her court-appointed attorney wasreplaced by yet another attorney. On May 31, prosecutors added three more charges related to an alleged starved goat, seized by the PHS late last year, and an alleged forged receipt for the purchase of animal feed.

“The goat was thin, with an eye injury, with overgrown hooves and was pretty much in bad shape,” Dabel said.

Wherry, when reached by phone, declined to comment but said she might be willing to talk in the future about her long history with the PHS.

Wherry’s problematic past with the PHS goes as far back as far as 1994, when the agency accused her of not fencing horses properly. PHS also claims the horses were starved and covered in their own feces. Earlier this year, she filed a civil suit against the PHS for improper seizure of animals pertaining to the goat. Scott Delucci, PHS spokesman, would not detail the extent of Wherry’s case, but said most animal abuse problems are resolved before ever going to court.

bfoley@examiner.com

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