SLO Sheriff determines no wrong doing in sheep deaths

May 10, 2014

sheep4The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff department determined that local rancher Jean (JB) Jaureguy was not criminally negligent in the deaths of 25 sheep, according to a sheriff’s department press release.

In February, a hiker walking trails at Heritage Ranch discovered dozens of abnormally thin and weak sheep. In addition, there were dead sheep in ravines, in a creek and on hillsides. The hiker called the sheriff and reported possible animal cruelty.

The sheriff’s department confirmed its original statement that the sheep died not from animal neglect, but from a mild winter storm. The department said that the combination of high winds and excessive rain caused the deaths.

As part of the investigation, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab performed necropsy on two deceased sheep that were determined to be underweight, however, they showed signs that food had been provided to them recently

“The sheriff’s office recognizes that any loss of an animal is tragic,” the press release says. “The sheriff’s office further recognizes that such a loss can be very emotional to all involved. But our role is to be an independent finder of facts and to determine whether a crime has been committed.”


As the person who had to sued (and WON) the sheepherders illegally grazing & violating every law on the federal, state, local, and county law on the books (because EVERY elected officials refused to act) in Cal Valley, I can say this……this case is getting way overblown. My property was damaged by nearly 2,000 sheep trespassing on my private property. This is a case of a few sheep dying, with a good possibility that their death was natural. Animals die every day in the ag world. Yes…it was a little grim & grimy. That is nature.

And yes…do a little research. The family we sued over the illegal sheep grazing are not monsters or dirtbags. Humans make mistakes. The law is there when someone deliberately causes harm. I do not believe that to be the case with this situation.

Francesca Bolognini

Well, I know I am opening myself to quite a barrage, but the obvious answer here is to STOP EATING ANIMALS. This takes away the opportunity for misconduct and the unavoidable suffering that, let’s face it, happens to a creature that is raised to be slaughtered. Not to mention the pollution caused by the process, both from fecal matter and over use of antibiotics that end up in our water supply and are not filtered out by sewage processing or the average water treatment plant. It takes an astounding amount more water to produce meat than vegetable protien, so another problem addressed. Then there is the health issue, the consumption of the quantity of meat the average American has become used to is far beyond what is necessary to good health maintainance (especially since NONE is necessary) and leads to much of the added health costs in this country, so yet another issue addressed.

If you are eating them, you are creating a market where animals have a very high level of abuse. If you are consuming bacon, I dare you to really look into how that pig was treated. Know that this animal is a highly sentient being with more intelligence that your beloved house pet.

And no, I am not a member of PETA, just a sentient human with common sense. I suggest that anyone who wants to have a “REAL understanding of how things work” would have to be the one raised for food, crowded beyond belief, kept in filth, shot full of drugs and, most importantly, standing in the line waiting their turn at the slaughter house.


Well, I don’t want to miss out on my part of the barrage to you….But don’t expect this to be my wisest, most illuminating post:

1): Animals are delicious. Don’t tell others what they can eat. God Himself invented propane bar-b-ques. He INVENTED the Maillard Reaction for delicious savory meat dishes.

2): Water used in meat production is water well spent. Many aq run off programs involve reuse of the water, and, besides, meat is delicious.

3): This case went well, because it showed that there IS an enforcement arm for bad ranchers to watch out for. You can bet merely the PRESENCE of an investigation helps remind those who would cut corners in animal feed to police themselves better. NO NEED to jail anybody.

4): Overgrazing, yes sometimes, is a problem, I’ll give you that. I have to maintain stiff fences to keep the tenant cattlemen next to my place from letting their marauding livestock push into my place. It’s been a problem for years since they overgraze their leased-from-county (hint) land until it nourishes similar to the surface of the Moon. A little phone call to the right insiders (range manager) pushes them and I see their truck haying the herd a lot more, added piping for water. No need to call law enforcement.

5): See # 1.

Francesca Bolognini

Regarding #1, I guess all that matters is that your particular appetite is being appeased.


Thank you to everyone that supported my father and my family. Also, thank you to the sheriffs department and everyone that was involved in the investigation.

As to everyone that was so quick to judge, make false accusations and rude comments without knowing my father or know nothing about sheep ranching or any ranching at all for that matter, I would be embarrassed if I was you. The way that some of you bashed my father, shows that I you have no respect for your fellow community and are not educated on ranching and the hardships that ranchers deal with every year.

As far the the subsidies, dont alienate my father when there is a large portion of farmers and ranchers that recieve those. Wake up and open your eyes, there is a whole nother world out there of hardworking, honest people that actually work instead of going to an office from 9-5 and sit at a desk.

Francesca Bolognini

Interestingly, you have no problem with taking the government money that comes from the taxas collected from these folks who sit behind desks and , in your opinion, do no “real” work, such as exploiting and abusing animals for your livelyhood.

Perhaps if people had to pay the cost of meat produced from animals who were more fairly treated and rhe subsidie costs now covered by their tax money, they would be less inclined to find it so “delicious”. I still think a tour of a stock yard and slaughter house should be part of any meat eaters diet, just to witness the cost of their meal as experienced by the animal.


Thank you to everyone that supported my father and my family. Also, thank you to the sheriffs department and everyone that was involved in the investigation.

As to everyone that was so quick to judge, make false accusations and rude comments without knowing my father or know nothing about sheep ranching or any ranching at all for that matter, I would be embarrassed if I was you. The way that some of you bashed my father, shows that I you have no respect for your fellow community and are not educated on ranching and the hardships that ranchers deal with every year.

As far the the subsidies, dont alienate my father when there is a large portion of farmers and ranchers that recieve those.


Regardless of the decision by the Sheriff’s Department not to prosecute, I think the videos speak for themselves.

“Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (a) or (c), every person who overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills any animal, or causes or procures any animal to be so overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter, or to be cruelly beaten, mutilated, or cruelly killed; and whoever, having the charge or custody of any animal, either as owner or otherwise, subjects any animal to needless suffering, or inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon the animal, or in any manner abuses any animal, or fails to provide the animal with proper food, drink, or shelter or protection from the weather, or who drives, rides, or otherwise uses the animal when unfit for labor, is for every such offence, guilty of a crime punishable as a misdemeanor as a felony or alternatively punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony and by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000)” California Penal Code.

But if the videos of dead and dying sheep and the shepherd throwing carcases and frail live sheep in the back of a truck don’t show animal cruelty, then what exactly constitutes animal cruelty in this county? In effect, starving animals by not supplying food,and watching them die a slow death is just part of the agricultural way of life in SLO County? I don’t think so.

To me, one of the disgusting results of this case was the effort by the shephard’s daughter and her friends to tell us (the public) that we can’t tell when sheep have been starved and that their condition was normal for recently sheared sheep, that we can’t judge because we don’t raise livestock, and that they (our wonderful farm families) are beyond reproach by us city slickers.

They proceeded to personally attack the couple who reported finding the sheep in distress, even accusing the wife of running an animal testing unit in China because she sells Avon.

This shepherd sheered the sheep in distress right before a forecasted rain storm, and then left them in a field already overgrazed without additional food with a helper who had to watch them die.

Why would he do this? To apply for disaster relief because of the drought? Insurance? Your tax dollars at work.

USDA subsidy information for J B Jaureguy

Subsidy Program Total Payments 1995-2012

Total USDA – Subsidies $329,664

Subtotal, Farming Subsidies $216,391

Subtotal, Disaster Payments $113,272

Commodity subsidy breakdown

Subsidy Program Total Payments 1995-2012

Subtotal, Farming Subsidies $216,391

Market Loss Assistance – Non-commodity $27,431

Market Loss Assistance – Wool $27,431

Loan Deficiency Payments $59,913

Loan Deficiency – Wool $59,913

Wool And Mohair Programs $69,354

Wool Promotion $7,399

Wool Program $61,956

Total Lamb Payments $59,656

Lamb Meat Adjustment – Ewe $17,712

Lamb Meat Adjustment – Feeder $4,539

Lamb Meat Adjustment – Ewe Lamb Replacement And Retention $4,644

Lamb Meat Adjustment – Rams $1,250

Lamb Meat Adjustment – Slaughter $31,511

Misc. Farm – Subsidies $37

Interest Penalty Payments $37

Disaster subsidy breakdown

Subsidy Program Total Payments 1995-2012

Subtotal, Disaster Payments $113,272

Misc. Disaster Payments $38,025

Non-insured Assistance $38,025

Livestock Disaster / Emergency $32,831

Emergency Livestock Feed Assistance $28,166

Livestock Emergency Assistance Program $-5,568

Livestock Forage Disaster Program $10,233

Livestock Compensation Program $42,416


What was wrong with the Sheriff’s Department investigation? Apparently they relied on the testimony of the shepherd, the shearer who has worked for the shepherd for many years, probably relied on the shepherd for the specimens to dig up for autopsy, and interviewed people who bought meat from the shepherd.

They did examine the rest of the herd to make certain they were in good health. However, they asked for expert opinions on the health of the herd in general.

I would like to know who the experts were that spoke on the condition of the dying sheep, if any.

Tony Cipolla reported the results of the investigation with nothing but praise for the shepherd and his good reputation. Since when does an unbiased investigation end with praise for the person investigated? IMO, the Sheriff’s Department investigated the health of the entire flock, not the cruelty to the dying sheep.

Theo P. Neustic

Wow, I’m clearly in the wrong type of food production business.


What do subsidies have to do with anything? He is not an exception. The LAW allows for subsidies. The issue was the alleged mis-treatment of his sheep, WHICH after being investigated found NO wrong doing. GET OVER IT.


I mention subsidies –taxpayer money that goes to farmers– to remind people that we help support many of our farmers and ranchers. In addition, SLO County is now helping support farmers, ranchers, and wine industry vineyard owners through the Williamson Act tax breaks. Our agriculture industry is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers, so we do have a voice, however tiny, in how ag operates.


Yes, and this case was investigated with OUR tax dollars and it was determined that there was no wrong doing. What’s your point?


To citizen, how dare you point fingers out at me for standing behind my father and family friends of ours that stood behind him as well. but it’s okay for everyone else to bash my father call him a cruel person, saying he was negligent and he deserves to be in jail? that’s okay for everyone else to do that but I can’t stand behind my father and tell them what I think. I did not personally bash anybody, nor was I harassing a senior citizen and making accusations that weren`t true.


please educate yourself before you comment because if you know anything about ranching than you know that if a percentage of your animals die you do not get insurance money from them. Nor disaster relief. I have a feeling I think I know who is behind the citizens name. is it that you’re too embarrassed actually show your real name and that you made yourself look like a fool???


Wake up and smell the coffee. PETA and HSUS are opportunistic, fund-raising scams.


As big business spoke for the right to treat animals this way, one must ask “Who will speak for the animals?” From the shabby “horse sanctuary” in San Miguel, to numerous cases of neglect and mistreatment given to County officials each year, nothing ever happens. Big Ag rallied to the aide of the Sheppard, and got their way. Money speaks while animals suffer. Our whole family is sad, but not shocked by the Sheriff’s decision to punt this one too.


I have as much distrust of “Big Ag” as anyone but I don’t see that as likely a factor in this case. (Perhaps I just have different standards than you as to what constitutes “Big Ag”.) If there was “Ag” influence in this case (a matter of speculation not fact), it is much more likely to have come from small to medium size ranchers who could see that this could simply have been bad luck and didn’t want a precedent for their own persecution should they experience the same thing. Sometimes, “$h!t Happens.”


This is NOT big Ag. It’s far from it. I suggest you contact JB and ask to monitor his sheep grazing operation, so you can get a REAL understanding of how things work.

I am certain he will accommodate you.