A father and son pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges Tuesday for allegedly keeping more than 100 animals near starvation on a Piru ranch.
Alfred Dale Beem, 57, and Robert Allen Beem, 30, have each been charged with one felony count of cruelty to animals. They entered their pleas at their arraignment before Municipal Judge Barry B. Klopfer.
The charges stemmed from an estimated three-month period, ending in May, when more than 110 animals, including seven horses, 34 sheep, 69 rabbits, three dogs, a cat and a cockatiel, were left neglected on the ranch, which was leased by the elder Beem, authorities said.
The animals were discovered after sheriff’s deputies saw several emaciated animals in a field. Two sheep and 21 rabbits were found dead at the Piru Canyon Road ranch.
Humane Society officials called the case one of the worst instances of animal neglect in Ventura County this year. The animals are being sheltered at the Humane Society’s Ojai facility, assistant office manager Mary Willard said.
“They’re doing a lot better,” she said. “They’ve gained weight. They look like normal animals now.”
The case was scheduled for a Sept. 10 preliminary hearing. If convicted, the Beems could face forfeiture of the animals, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Donna Thonis. They could also face fines of up to $20,000 and a year in prison.
The Humane Society will put the animals up for adoption if the Beems are convicted, Willard said.