Synopsis: On January 22, 2015 at 4am, the Mules were woken up by San Clemente police officer who told us that we could not sleeping in this vacant lot . He asked us when we would be leaving. We said we would leave when it was light and he said okay and left. About 8:30am, we continued our journey south on the El Camino Real when Little Girl started to show a light lameness in her front foot. As we continued, her limp became pronounced. To prevent further injury, we stopped at another vacant lot to inspect her foot, which was quite sensitive. We knew that we needed to seek help with someone with a horse trailer to bring her to an equine vet to get checked. Took the pack off the mules and started making phone calls, leaving messages to people I knew to seek help. None of our contacts were able to arrive that day (January 22) with a trailer.
About 9pm, San Clemente police officer arrived. We explained our circumstances as to why we were there and could not physically move due to Little Girl’s injury. The officer called animal control and we waited for quite a while before animal control showed up. Animal control officer took a very quick look at a distance, had Little Girl walk a few steps on soft dirt, and made a comment that Little Girl did not look lame to her, and then left. At that point the police officer decided to issue the citation based on her opinion.
The next day, friends arrived with a trailer to pick us up to bring us to San Juan Capistrano. We could not meet the vet immediately and rested Little Girl while we waited for our appointment on January 26. On January 26, San Juan Capistrano equine veterinarian Dr. Mark Secor gave Little Girl an exam, including x-rays. Dr. Secor wrote in his examination report: “Exam: mild LF lameness noted at walk, certain steps – tight circle to left more exaggerated, mild high lateral hoof well, mild ups DP’s, les palpates WNL. Moderate sensitivity to hoof testers… Suspect cause of lameness – resolving abscess.”
The Monk followed the instructions on the citation, submitted a check by the payment deadline and requested to contest citation via mail (submitting our letter and vet expert diagnosis with payment) instead of having an Administrative Hearing in person which would require mules to walk back to San Clemente. The Mules made several phone calls to request in regards to an appeal while we were nearby and was told that they were backlogged in processing citations. On March 2, we received a certified letter that stated “THIS IS THE SECOND HEARING DATE – IT CANNOT BE RESCHEDULE”. The Mules never received a letter informing us about a date for a first hearing. Also, we sent Dr. Secor’s exam as evidence that Little Girl was lame. Hearing is scheduled for March 25. We cannot walk back to San Clemente due to our distance.
The Mules find it unreasonable for San Clemente to cite us and retain our $100 citation fee as we had a valid reason for why we could not PHYSICALLY leave town by walking due to Little Girl’s lameness in her foot. We were waiting for friends to come with a horse trailer to pick us up, which wasn’t available to arrive until the next day. We submitted written letter of appeal with veterinarian diagnosis confirming Little Girl’s lameness due to abscess in hoof. San Clemente rejected our written request for appeal and is requiring us to appear in person back in San Clemente on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 even though we have indicated that we will not be able to walk back due to our distance. As well, after explaining how we live in our initial letter to San Clemente, it is unreasonable for the city to wait more than two months for an administrative hearing date when we called to inquire multiple times while we were within walking distance to appeal. San Clemente has not yet responded to our letter.
This is our letter that we sent with our $100 and request to appeal the citation via mail instead of in person. We included Dr. Secor’s diagnosis with this letter.