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California Valley abuse charges reduced 

Animal abuse charges against Neal and Jeanne Smith, a California Valley couple whose ranch was raided three times this year, have been dropped, but will be re-filed as misdemeanor charges, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Given the circumstances of the case, as known to me at this time, our office would not anticipate seeking a prison sentence for either of the Smiths should they be convicted,” Eric J. Dobroth, a San Luis Obispo County deputy district attorney, said in an e-mail. “That is why the charges are being reduced.”

Dobroth said he expected charges to be filed on Nov. 29.

Neal Smith was in the hospital getting a double-lung transplant during the first raid in May. He was returning from another hospital stay because of complications with his double transplant on Sept. 17 when he again found an animal control raid in progress—the third of the year, according to him.

“They never called or tried to speak with me beforehand,” he said. “They
just broke in and never showed me
a warrant.”

An animal control officer making a routine check on Sept. 17 reported seeing a farm animal with its head caught in a fence, and then found other animals that lacked water and had other health issues, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn.

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