Everyone has been asking what they can do to help the horses and to assist in making sure that Nancy Mackall is fully prosecuted for the neglect and death of the horses and dogs in her care.
I have spoken to the Humane Society of the U.S. and they are ready to push the prosecutor and judicial system for "vigorous prosecution."
We need your help. It will only take a little time, some paper, envelope and a stamp. We need ALL of you to write a letter, detailing your involvement or pure outrage at the horrible events that took place at Mackall's farm. Please address your letters to:
Mr. Keith Dane
Director Equine Protection
Humane Society of the United States
700 Professional Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
The letter I have written is below. Please attempt to write your own letters. They will have a great deal more impact than a form letter.
Re: Nancy Mackall and Polo Pony Retirement Foundation Horse Deaths and Seizure
Dear Mr. Dane:
I am writing to you in hopes you can help push for full prosecution of Nancy Mackall of Orange County, Virginia in the above mentioned case.
On August 6th 2009 Animal Control officer, Patricia Dahl entered the property of Nancy Mackall, owner of the Polo Pony Retirement Foundation. Twenty dead horses were found on her property, along with 10 in extremely poor shape (1's and 2's on the body condition scale). Ten other horses were in good shape. One stallion was found in a gooseneck trailer; he had been locked in there for over a month standing in his urine and manure. One thirty year old mare, “Mona” was so weak, she had to be lifted into the trailer to be removed from the property. “Mona” has been taken in by Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary. More info about her can be found at: http://www.equineelders.blogspot.com.
In addition, three dogs were found in Mackall’s house, one in good condition and two locked in crates with no food or water. One, an Afghan Hound, who was adopted by the woman who reported Mackall, was unable to walk because her fur was so matted.
Mackall took in horses for "retirement". She turned around and sold some, starved many of the others. She is wealthy and politically connected. We are very afraid she will just get a slap on the wrist.
Mackall’s defense is her “health problems.” Why didn’t call anyone for help if her health problems were so bad? Mackall’s home and horse farm (she lives on the property) is located in a wealthy horse area in Orange County, Virginia. Wingreen Farm is less than 5 miles away and there are many horse farms less than 10 miles away. A warmblood breeder is located almost across the road. They all have vets, farriers, feed and hay. All she had to do is ask for help! I understand she was very reclusive; kept her gate locked at all times and did not admit visitors. Now everyone understands why…she had a lot to hide!
If she, alone, was taking care of that many horses and had health problems, why was she continuing to take in horses? She didn't remove her website until after she was caught and, in fact, reposted the site several weeks following the seizure only for it to be removed again. She was, at the very least, scamming horse owners into donating horses and money. Her website said she had "applied" for 501(c)3 status. In the two years since I last spoke to her, no updates have been made to the site. She is NOT listed with the IRS as a 501(c)3. She is, however, listed as a "Foundation" with the SCC of Virginia.
In addition, this neglect was not recent. This was going on for a long time. She knew what she was doing. Two years ago, she sold four horses to a New York renaissance fair. They arrived in New York in poor shape. So, at least two years ago, she was already not taking proper care of horses AND was selling the horses donated to her for retirement. Since when does a “retirement farm” sell off horses? Furthermore, when she delivered four horses to New York, not the requested three as requested, Mackall informed the purchaser that “if she didn’t take them all, she (Mackall) had too many horses anyway and would have to put some down.” One horse, Dandy, who arrived with NO HAIR and a serious hock injury, was owned by Cissie Jones Snow (wife of Adam Snow, the polo pro). Cissie donated Dandy to Mackall for retirement. Poor Dandy had already been rescued once from a kill pen years before. Cissie paid for him by the pound and trained him slowly into a top level polo pony. Dandy's story (written by Cissie) is attached. It’s a heartbreaker!
Neighbors tell me that she owns 70 to 80 contiguous acres. Mackall had about 30 acres that were taped off with electric fence in sections. There are another 40 to 50 acres in the back. She could have put the weak horses in separate pastures. Instead, she put up portable 12’ x 20’ pipe corrals under a large shed, and stuck the yearling (who was very head shy) in a pen with a dead horse in the back. Another horse was in a round pen and another in a little board pen. All were without food, grass or water. The stallion was in a gooseneck trailer. It was an older trailer, the enclosed type. She had a nice aluminum stock trailer with good ventilation, but choose not to imprison the poor guy in the stock trailer. It was estimated, by the amount of manure in the trailer, that the stallion had been there for at least a month, in the heat of July and August. The temperature for the first week of August averaged in the mid 80’s. Can you imagine the temperature, the ammonia level and the smell inside that trailer? It’s a miracle the horse lived. The neighbor who discovered the horses found a full hayloft full of hay; there was adequate water located near the barn and plenty of buckets available, just not in the pastures or corrals. There is no excuse for what Nancy Mackall allowed to happen to those poor defenseless horses.
No one forced Nancy Mackall to set up the “Polo Pony Retirement Foundation”, advertise as a retirement facility and take in horses for free. She took that on herself, and if her circumstances changed, she should have at least made sure the horses' basic needs were met. There is nothing in this world that would justify horses starving to death on a farm with adequate pasture.
We need help! We need help now! Mackall’s trial is scheduled for October 16th. It is my understanding that the Commonwealth Attorney, Diana Wheeler, is not very aggressive and does not have a very good record in pursuing animal abuse cases. Mackall is wealthy and politically connected. Her uncle is not longer representing her. She has hired the firm of Higginbotham and Bowan, PLC (criminal attorneys) as her counsel. They have a reputation for a very vigorous defense.
The criminal hearing in October can impose jail time and further penalties. She has been charged with the neglect of 10 horses and the improper disposal of 20 dead horses. So far, Mackall has not been charged with neglect of the dogs. I’ve been told that the neglect of companion animals carries a larger penalty than the penalties allowed for neglect of horses.
The deal Mackall has reached with the court so far will allow her to own horses in two years and keep a dog. The seizure hearing ordered this. She was allowed to keep the one healthy dog. Two horses were given to her uncle and are in the care of a foster home and will remain boarded there. She did have to pay the foster homes a fee for caring for animals from the time they were seized until the time they were forfeited.
I can’t even imagine the suffering of those poor animals that were dependent upon Nancy Mackall for their very lives. She failed them horribly and she failed their previous owners. The polo community and the horse community, in general, are horrified by her actions and inaction. We believe the only way to prevent this from happening again is to prevent Mackall from ever owning animals in the future. Please help us push for vigorous prosecution of Nancy Mackall through the Commonwealth Attorney and the judicial system of Virginia.
Thank you for your help in seeing that Nancy Mackall gets a fair trial and appropriate punishment.