How to proceed
I'm hoping no one jumps all over me for this post. I'm seeking opinions because I'm trying to decide the best course of action at this point. It's a situation I've never personally been in before and am just not sure how to proceed.
There is a local "tack swap" sort of FB page for my area where people post clothes, tack, blankets, etc that they're trying to get rid of. Sometimes people will post horses as well, though moving anything is tough right now.
There's one gal who's posted a couple horses that I generally just glance at, but they look like the backyard breeder, not a lot of effort has gone into them sort. The ones I've seen in the past are unkempt - as in not groomed, feet a little long, odd picture angle sort - but not really in bad shape. They're just not from a show barn.
This past week she posted a mare for sale that is in baaaaad shape. As in, she's probably a 2 BCS and has feet that haven't seen a farrier in over a year. I don't know about her beyond what was posted, but as soon as I saw it my heart dropped to about my knees. The mare is clearly not getting the food it needs, but it's hard to say if it's neglect or there's something going on with her since the other horses I've seen posted are all in good weight.
I've looked up the animal control number for that county, and I've done some online work to find what I believe is the owner's address. I looked up her name online and found it associated with an ad in VAequestrian for hay for sale as recently as June, which makes me even more disturbed this mare looks the way she does. My fiance made note that it's possible this isn't a recent picture, though she's listed as a 2 year old looks that age in the picture.
I'm all set to call it in, but I have fears that by doing so the owner might disappear. I also don't want to call in someone who's trying to do the right thing for their horse by rehoming it, and know that they have a problem and can't feed them, etc. However, given that they have a young colt for sale, I have my fears that if I wait too long then the same could happen to him.
I guess I'm having that human moment of "Am I overreacting? What should be my next step so I don't ruin this person's life by being overly cautious". Anyone been in a similar situation? Can you offer any advice?
If animal control does their job correctly, they will screen out situations where owner is working to put weight on a sick horse, etc. If the situation is as you suspect, then a simple phone call could make a tremendous difference in this young horses' life.
We had animal control called on called on us and I was not offended in the least. At the time my pony was 38 and, as with most older horses, it was a daily struggle to keep weight on him. If someone did not know that situation it made perfect sense to call.
If your instinct is telling you there's something wrong, there is no harm in calling Animal Control. They can drop by and check it out. If all is well, then great. But if this horse or others are in danger, you will be relieved you spoke up. So no harm done in speaking up.
However, if you don't call, and the situation gets worse, your conscience will have loads of trouble with that.
So I would absolutely speak up, just in case. You will sleep better at night.
Thanks for the input. I'd pretty much made up my mind to call, but you know there's always those second guesses and "what ifs" that come up. Might sound silly, I just don't want to ruin someone's life by overreacting. On the other hand, I *will* feel responsible if she or another horse dies due to neglect. So I'll call them tomorrow!
I think your trepidation at getting authorities immediately involved is a good instinct. Even *if* animal control does what they do with thoroughness and integrity (and that is not a small 'if') and finds a plausible reason for the horse's condition, it might sour this woman on doing the good that she does.
Originally Posted by windsor81
If you were far away, I would say to go ahead and call - but since you are local, why not drop by and check it out yourself?
Originally Posted by michaleenflynn
Can't you go and look at the horse in person? That way you will know what's going on when you talk to AC.
I think I'd call it in. If the owner is legit and properly caring for the mare, there sholdn't be any repercussions for her
There shouldn't be, but it doesn't always work out like that....
Originally Posted by allintexas
Call it in. People who take care of their animals should not be upset if someone is concerned about a skinny horse. If there is a medical reason, then the owner should have a vet who will say that. When hooves look really bad, that means the horse is not getting proper care.
Originally Posted by allintexas
Our state ag agent handles horses here. He is terrific. I've called him several times about horses I have personally observed over months. He acted immediately and went back to make sure that the owners were feeding the horses hay. (They weren't, so he then cited the owners.)
My theory is that if someone has nothing to hide, they won't mind being checked. (Like our investigative reporters followed everyone in Atlanta. I told them to make sure they were there when I was working at midnight and on weekends as well as when I headed to the lake for sailing on Friday afternoons.)
Did you call AC? Any response? Status of horse?
Here's my update: I finally had a chance to call in to ACO this morning. I left a message and within about 5 minutes they called me back. They asked me if "It was the place with the trailer", and if the horses were "Black Walking horses". I couldn't answer the first question since I'd only google map stalked them, but I *could* say that the horses listed were black walking horses. It sounds like the ACO knew the location and the horses involved. They asked if the horse was "behind the barn" and while I couldn't answer that, I just told them "I'm not sure, but in the picture it does appear she's housed behind a structure".
I mentioned the mare was probably a 2 or 3 on the BCS score from the picture and had severely overgrown feet. I told them I wasn't sure if they were just trying to sell the horses because they couldn't afford them, but I thought this warranted a look at the horse to check on her. The gal I was talking to said she would be in that area this afternoon, so she would stop by to take a look at them.
Since my first post, in attempting to get info for the ACO I found an ad by the owners on another website advertising hay for sale. I can only hope that perhaps they sold more than they should have, and ran out for their own horses. Also, the fact that the ACO already knew about this location makes me feel a lot better about calling in. Sounds like they have had issues in the past. It makes me VERY sad that they have a foal on the property as well, but maybe they'll find new homes for them.
This is one of those "If I had the money to pay to board two horses, the mare would be coming home with me" situations.
Also, for those who recommended stopping by, I agree with your recommendation. I debated contacting the person selling the mare and driving out there to see her and the location. Unfortunately, she live about 2 from me and my schedules is tied up enough at the moment that I don't have enough free time to get up there. So, calling ACO will have to suffice instead! Hopefully there will be some sort of resolution.
You did the 100% right thing by calling it in!
IMO, if you are going to do more than a drive by, I would be aganist going. Sometimes it's better to remain anonymous. Some people get really offended by calls and if you go poking around they then have a face that they can put to the phone call. If you are in the same FB group, then they can get your information as easily as you got theirs.
Good luck and keep us posted on what happens!
Good work. You did the right thing. With animal abuse, as with child abuse, you have to "make the call."
People too often do not want to "get involved" and therefore animals (and humans) often suffer. Someone has to do it and not rely on others to do it.
Obviously AC already knew about the horses and location, so you may have saved the horse by your call.
I agree that most people should remain unknown the the owners. I always give my name, and offer to testify, but I don't want the location of my horses known to animal abusers. AC and the ag agent know my horses, my farrier, and my vet. But I don't want the abusers showing up unless I'm at the barn.
Update again: I haven't heard anything from the AC, but the gal posted 2 new ads on the FB page today. One was another picture of the mare, from a different angle and a little further away. Unfortunately, the angle doesn't show her weight or her feet as well, but she is clearly underweight. The second was a 5 month old colt who is also underweight.
I'm a little disappointed that they are in the situation they're in, but all I can figure at this point is maybe they're trying to get rid of the horses because they can't afford them? I'm also very disappointed at the outcome regarding AC quite frankly. But I guess, everything takes time and I just have to be patient.
If I hear anymore, I'll let everyone know.