Ragtime, the little horse who has caused the big fuss, survived eviction from a Thousand Oaks neighborhood Monday.
But both his owner and the city's attorney said the fight over whether the horse can stay in the neighborhood is not over, and both predicted it will ultimately be settled in a courtroom.
The city had ordered Patty Fairchild, owner of the 27-inch-high Ragtime, to remove him from her home by Monday. When city inspectors showed up to see if the horse was there, Fairchild was not home, and a friend turned them away from the door.
Fairchild said later that she will refuse entry to any city inspectors. Ragtime, an American miniature horse, will continue living at her home until a court decides the issue, she said.
Thousand Oaks City Atty. Mark G. Sellers said the city does not need to inspect the property if a neighbor is willing to sign a complaint. The fine for violating the city law can run as high as $160 a day, he said.
If Fairchild still refuses to move the animal, Sellers said, then the city may seek a court order to have it removed.
"Either way you look at it, this is probably going to end up in court," Sellers said.
The City Council last month refused to grant Ragtime an exemption to city zoning laws that prohibit horses in Fairchild's neighborhood of Oakbrook Village.
Jan B. Tucker, a Redondo Beach private investigator who is donating his services to Fairchild, said that Ragtime's supporters will argue that city laws prohibiting farm animals in Fairchild's neighborhood do not apply to miniature horses.
"The city will have to show in court that this is a farm animal," Tucker said. "It may be a horse, but we have experts who will testify that it cannot do any farm work."
Sellers said that argument will not work. City zoning laws for the area, he said, prohibit horses as well as farm animals. "As far as we are concerned it is a horse, and it violates city code," he said.
Neighbors who opposed Fairchild's being allowed to keep Ragtime at her home have said the city is obligated to uphold city zoning restrictions. Fairchild has argued that the animal, because of its size, should be considered a domestic pet.