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Forever Aptor, with owner Gail Hooker, was among the 23 horses fed poisonous oleander.

Courtesy photo

Forever Aptor, with owner Gail Hooker, was among the 23 horses fed poisonous oleander.

RANCHO SANTA FE — A reward of up to $12,500 leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever left a mix of food containing toxins for 23 show horses at a Rancho Santa Fe ranch is being offered. The Humane Society of the United States added $2,500 to the $10,000 already being offered by Rockridge Farm owners Bill and Debbie Tomin, who run a 10-acre boarding and training facility that houses about 30 American Saddlebreds.

One of the animals sickened by the toxins, a 14-year-old gelding named Forever Aptor, remained hospitalized, but veterinarians said he is making progress and may be released soon, at press time.

Someone came onto the property July 30 and fed the animals oleander leaves mixed with cut-up apples and carrots. Two pregnant mares were among the animals fed the toxic leaves. Oleander is a toxic substance horses can ingest and can cause cardiac arrest if not treated promptly. Symptoms include sweating, pawing and stomach pain, Tomin said.

When workers went into the barn July 30 around 6 a.m. they found one of the horses already down. Three had to be rushed to an equine hospital in Bonsall, and all required testing to see if their hearts were damaged. All of the horses except Forever Aptor have recovered, and blood tests showed that none suffered any heart damage, Tomin said. The pregnant mares and their unborn foals, due in February, do not appear to have suffered any damage.

The Humane Society of the United States decided to add to the reward offered in the case because of the nature of the crime.

The Tomins said there are still no suspects in the poisoning and they have no idea why someone would do such a thing. They are installing a security system in the ranch, which they’ve owned for 30 years. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477, or e-mail Bill and Debbie Tomin at: rsfsickhorses@gmail.com

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