DeeDee Golberg has until April 1 to find new homes for 23 of her horses.

The Janesville Town Board’s decision came Monday night when Golberg, owner of Spirit Horse Equine Rescue, was supposed to present a timeline for reducing the number of horses on her property.

Golberg is in violation of town ordinance by having more than double the number of horses permitted on her land. She is allowed 15 but has 38, she said.

She admitted to the town board last month that she has had between 30 and 40 horses on the property for years. Golberg thought the board gave her its blessing to surpass the allowed number of horses at a meeting more than five years ago, but board members have different memories of what was said at that meeting.

At its November meeting, the board told Golberg to come back with a timeline for reducing the number of horses on her property.

On Monday night, Golberg said she had three options:

  • Lease or purchase new property to serve as a dedicated facility for her rescue operation.
  • Request a short-term conditional-use permit.
  • Expand foster placements.

Each presents its own challenges. Finding a new facility would take time and require a capital campaign, an application for a conditional-use permit could be denied and foster placements are difficult to find in the winter, Golberg said.

She hopes to one day share land with the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin when it opens its new facility on County G south of Janesville, but those plans are indefinite at this time, she said.

Her plans gave no firm answers on when the horses would be relocated.

Since November, Golberg has found new homes for three of her 38 horses. They were supposed to be relocated last weekend, but weather postponed the move.

Golberg said she likely would not be able to move many horses before spring.

Board member David Rebout suggested the April 1 deadline, which gives Golberg the remainder of December and three more months to find homes.

Board members agreed unanimously that by April 1, Golberg needs to have plans for all her horses. The horses do not have to be physically moved, but Golberg has to know where they will be going and when.

Golberg requested a June 1 deadline but was denied.

Rebout said he had “no idea” what will happen if Golberg does not meet the deadline.

The timeline given to Golberg was similar to one the board gave to Porsche and Jonathan Kettelhut last year, Rebout said.

The town sued the Kettelhuts in December 2017 for having two horses more than allowed. The Kettelhuts operate A Right to Life Animal and Equine Sanctuary on their property.

A judge sided with the town and ordered the Kettelhuts to pay $11,792 in legal fees to the town and a $500 fine.

When asked if he thought the board was being fair in its decision making, Rebout said he is “hoping we are.”

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