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St. Mary’s animal control officers issued a citation last week to Jennifer Hurry of the Laurel Ridge neighborhood for improper shelter for two horses and a pony.

A horse and a pony were removed from the 29,795-square-foot lot at 29706 Finch Court, said Tony Malaspina, animal control supervisor, and taken to a horse farm.

Wayne Norton of La Plata made several complaints to St. Mary’s animal control on behalf of his daughter Yvette Morey, who lives next door. Norton himself has two horses on his 5-acre property and said he doesn’t mind people keeping a horse on smaller lots, “as long as it’s humanely kept.”

The two horses and the pony at Finch Court were kept in a corral in the backyard under a tree. Under St. Mary’s animal control guidelines, a tree can serve as a shelter for horses, Malaspina said. However, the tree has been bare since the fall, providing no shelter.

Animal control would have captured the three animals, but one horse “was pretty wild. We couldn’t catch it,” Malaspina said. So the corral was moved next to a shed and a holly tree to provide shelter for the remaining horse.

“It was March 5 of last year,” Norton said when he first started looking into local regulations in his complaints about the horses’ living conditions.

With three horses living in cramped conditions, their waste ran across his daughter’s backyard on its way to a nearby stream, he said. “It’s really an atrocious thing she’s had to put up with for years,” Norton said, along with her two children living there.

Hurry could not be reached for comment.

Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R), who represents northern St. Mary’s, was notified and drove past the property on Finch Court. “It looked to me like we’re looking at a horse concentration camp. First of all there’s a neglect issue,” he said. Also, “that area is not zoned for an equestrian facility.” The neighborhood is zoned a residential neighborhood conservation district, not the rural preservation district.

There were also complaints about unlicensed vehicles on the street in front of the house, which comes under the authority of both the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office and department of land use and growth management.

“We have multiple enforcement, but it’s not coordinated,” Jarboe said. “Why did it take over a year? We’re not coordinating our actions very well.”