For anyone who is interested, please check out the article at http://www.care2.com/causes/veterina...cue-story.html When I stated this was a big "overreaction," I was stating the facts. The "Rescue" operation that got involved, and turned this into a sensationalized account, was INVITED onto the property to help - the rest of the story is as described. The "Rescue" operation has also suppressed the facts on their Facebook Page, presumably to further their own agenda.
These are emotional incidents, no doubt. But the facts are as stated in the Care2 article, and people interested would do well not to jump to conclusions. Some people are even using these situations for financial gain. We need to all work together for the good of the horses.
The article Dr Rameny provided for those who don't enjoy clicking.
Every so often, the media gets it wrong. Really wrong. Recently, Care2 ran a story about a horse rescue situation in Simi Valley, California. Our story relied on information from several press accounts. However, we’ve learned since then that many of the facts were incorrectly reported.
Rather than perpetuate inaccurate information, we want Care2’s readers to know what sources close to the situation have told us.
Shortly after our story ran, Care2 was contacted by Dr. David Ramey. Dr. Ramey is a veterinarian in Encino, California with over 30 years of experience specializing in the care of horses. His expertise includes equine welfare, a topic on which he has written books and articles and lectured around the world.
Some may remember that Dr. Ramey was quoted in the stories on this incident as saying all the attention was an “overreaction.” He had much more to say than just that, but his explanation of what was really going on wasn’t reported.
We have that story now, supported by confirmation of key facts by the abuse investigators of the Humane Society of Ventura County (HSVC).
According to Dr. Ramey, the situation in Simi Valley occurred because an elderly horse lover tried to do a good deed and bit off more than he could chew.
The owner of the property, who lives on site in a simple trailer with no power, apparently was told by someone that there were nine horses needing an immediate home, or they would have to “be killed.” Since the property is quite large enough for horses to roam, the owner, a lifelong horse lover, agreed to take them.
“Unfortunately, the old man did not have the means — and perhaps not the strength or stamina — to adequately care for the horses,” Dr. Ramey told Care2. “The old man, lacking the resources to buy enough feed for all of the horses, and probably the energy to take care of them, got in over his head.”
It is our understanding that HSVC was told the same thing.
Contrary to press reports, the horses were fed daily, not three times per week, says Dr. Ramey. Friends of the owner stepped in when it became apparent that the property owner couldn’t handle things himself. They even bought hay at their own expense to be sure the horses were fed, he says.
“However, since the horses were fed together, over time, the more dominant horses kept their weight, while the less dominant ones got thinner,” Dr. Ramey told Care2. Importantly, he says, “None of the horses were emaciated, and none of them met the legal standards for abuse or neglect.”
Care2 confirmed this point with the Director of Investigations for HSVC , John Brockus, who was also present on June 29th. He said HSVC saw nothing at the site that day that they would consider abuse or neglect.
HSVC employs Ventura County’s only humane officers, so Mr. Brockus’ office would conduct any investigations into neglect or abuse allegations, where necessary. In this case, they determined, based on the situation, that it was not necessary to seize any of the horses that day.
Dr. Ramey says he became involved at the site in a limited way when he was called in by friends of the owner to examine the leg of one of the horses in late May. At that time, he says he was told about the horse that had slipped on some rocks and had been found dead. (He notes that there was no foal nearby, as has been previously reported).
The horse Dr. Ramey examined apparently had a fractured leg. He says he was told the horse would be, and was, appropriately euthanized. This horse is believed to be the second carcass found on the property. Sad and distasteful as it is, Dr. Ramey says there’s no law in California requiring that the carcasses be disposed of, and the owner couldn’t afford to have them moved.
A couple of weeks after his first visit, Dr. Ramey says he was called by friends of the property owner to examine a grey gelding with a large wound to its right shoulder. The wound, which appeared in some press photos, looked bad, but was in fact “not serious, and posed no threat to the horse.” It couldn’t be sutured and had to heal naturally. Photos provided by Dr. Ramey show that the wound is indeed healing. Dr. Ramey reports that this horse is fine and well cared for in a new home.
“I also told the helpers that given this, the third accident, homes needed to be found for the horses, or I would have to call Animal Control,” Dr. Ramey told Care2. “Frankly, the third accident was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I thought that the situation was too much for the old man, as well as for the people who helped him. The next day, I was told that two of the horses were being adopted by friends of the old man, and I was asked to help find homes for some of the other ones.”
An organization Dr. Ramey called had no room for more horses, but they in turn called Auction Horses Rescue, who then called HSVC and the media, according to Dr. Ramey. HSVC confirmed for Care2 that they were called to the scene by Auction Horses Rescue. The story spiraled into a media event from there.
As things ended up, two horses were taken in by friends of the owner, four were voluntarily given to Auction Horses Rescue, and another four remained on site. HSVC revisited the site during the week of July 15th to check on the horses that are still there. These horses are fine, according to John Brockus.
“I think that the current times, where there are so many unwanted horses, are awful for horses,” said Dr. Ramey. “They need all of the help that they can get. It seems to me that the welfare of horses would best be served if we all worked together.”
We can’t argue with that!
You know, all the facts being whatever they are after all the hairs are split, I have a problem with anyone who think that leaving rotting horse carcasses out in the open, especially around other horses or on the same property, is in any way okay. THAT should have been a really big red flag for anyone involved that this is NOT where the horses should be, in my opinion.
The problem is not people that think it's OK, it's California Law, which allows for such things under certain circumstances. As for "OK," remember, Animal Control was called, they were at the scene (several times), and they did not file any charges. And there certainly WERE red flags, which is why I, and other people, took steps to find homes for some of the horses in the first place.
Certainly, I didn't think things were "OK." That's why I took steps to help find homes for some of the horses, ALL of which would have been dead otherwise. As for abuse and neglect, those are legal terms. The authorities were there several times, and declined to file any charges. That's just facts.
Using body condition scoring charts, yes, you are correct, the horse would not have qualified as emaciated. And, no, no legal standards of neglect were met. Honestly, this could have been a story about a lot of nice people getting together trying to help out an old man with too big a heart, and the nice homes that were found for horses in less-than-ideal conditions. Depends on how you want to spin things, and why.
I would trust the vet anyday over a group of sensational fund raising..this is the worst hoarding, abuse, neglect case I have ever seen
As for the carcas..what point did you not understand Ruby. HE HAD NO MONEY AND THEY WERE NOT HIS HORSES...
Too many cases where photos have been initially used and then discounted when facts emerged...thus pulling the wind out of the RARA groups
No dental work...for GOSH SAKES...the horses were fed....feed and water on the property...OLD MAN trying to help someone out by letting them use his property.
I truly hope the sanctimonious poops never run into any situation where they are under investigation when they are a senior.
But then...I don't think any of them would even consider helping someone as this elderly gent tried to.
Dr. Ramney...please do not even both with the critical posters. They all turned on Dr. Heneke of the Heneke Scale infamy when he would NOT support the HSUS and Queen Annes County animal control and he called B.S. (like in the game) when he read their reports and discovered most of those doing the testing were not qualified to even identify the animal was an equine let alone under weight AND the one person who did have knowledge was so entrenched with her hatred of ALL horse breeders that it truly warped her evaluation skills
The "learned" ladies here declared Dr. Heneke was a fake..he wasn't even a vet, he didn't develope the scale...someone else wrote the letter and so on.
Thank you for posting a realistic appraisal of the situation and thank you for partaking in a solution.
This was the press release that caused an uproar and pearl clutching when it was read.
(MIS)USE OF THE BCS IN ALLEGED NEGLECT
Over the past year, cases of alleged horse neglect have skyrocketed across the United States. I have been contacted by people from California to Maryland, from Minnesota to Texas, and from New York to Arizona. This phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions. Minnesota alone reportedly investigated almost 400 cases in 2011. Most of these can be attributed to the down economy and the drought making it difficult for horse owners to feed their horses like they would like to feed them. Therefore, we are seeing a lot more horses in below average body condition. That does not make every thin horse a neglected or abused horse.
Over the past decade, the Body Condition Scoring System for Horses (BCS) has become, in many if not most cases, the sole reason for seizure for neglect or abuse. The problem with this is that the BCS was not designed to reflect the health or well-being of the horse. The BCS provides an estimate of stored body fat, period. From a physiological standpoint, as long as a horse has any fat reserves and is receiving a diet that meets its daily maintenance requirements, that horse can be healthy.
For example, The Minimum Standards of Horse Care in the State of California (2011) arbitrarily indicates that any horse with a BCS of less than 3 does not meet the minimum standard. By definition, a BCS 3 horse still has reserves of body fat. Once a horse gets below a BCS 3, then reserves are low. However, the health of the horse is only in jeopardy if it is breaking down non-fat tissue to provide for its basic energy needs. The BCS cannot measure this function.
Breakdown of non-adipose tissue for energy can be evaluated through blood analysis focusing on liver and kidney function, and the breakdown of structural tissue for energy. Blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and the ratio of blood urea nitrogen level to creatinine level are indicators of tissue breakdown. Analysis for hematocrit, serum concentrations of total protein solids, sodium, calcium, potassium, triglycerides, bilirubin, and albumin will also provide information concerning malnutrition and starvation. None of these tests are accurate on their own. However, evaluation of matching trends from the analysis can help confirm or disprove that the horse is nutritionally deprived.
In addition, the presence, or absence, of other physical indicators of inadequate energy intake should be used to evaluate alleged neglect. Energy deprived horses will be lethargic. Their reaction to stimuli will be depressed. They will usually show signs of dehydration: tacky gums, “tenting” of skin on the neck, concentrated urine with a very strong odor, and decreased fecal output. Coprophagy, the consumption of feces, is usually very pronounced in energy deprived horses, especially those kept in groups. Since energy deprivation is usually accompanied by protein deficits, the hair coat will dull and shaggy. It is imperative that a low BCS score be supported by other clinical signs of starvation to indicate nutritional neglect.
The presence, or absence, of feed and hay on the premises is an excellent indicator of the ability of the owner to meet the nutritional needs of their horses. If adequate feed and hay is present to meet the needs of the animals, then seizure is not warranted. Few, if any, horse owners will refuse to feed their horses if feed is available.
Adding to the problem is that many “evaluators” have not received any formal training in the application of the BCS. They do not understand the physiology of fat deposition and utilization, they are not knowledgeable in conformation and breed characteristics that will influence the BCS, and most often they have personal biases that lower their estimate. The BCS is designed as a ranking system. It was never designed to be exact and it cannot be exact because of differences in breeds, size, age, and conformation between horses. It is a guideline. If the average lay horse owner gets within 1 body condition score, plus or minus, of the horses actual condition, they are doing a good job. Seizing a horse based solely on an untrained person’s estimated BCS is a very questionable practice.
I find it very disturbing that humane societies and local authorities have utilized the BCS in such a manner. There are definitely cases of neglect and abuse that need to be dealt with in a quick and decisive manner. However, care must be taken to be sure that the animals are truly being starved and that requires supporting evidence from their other physical parameters and blood analysis. My recommendation to all parties is that if neglect or abuse due to nutrition deprivation is suspected,
The evaluator must exhibit the ability to offer a trained, unbiased opinion based solely on the stored body fat of the animal. If seizure is to be considered, the evaluation of the animals by a qualified, impartial third person should be required.
A BCS of less than 3 is not cause for automatic seizure. The animals in question must exhibit altered metabolism confirmed by blood analysis or other physical signs consistent with malnutrition before they can be seized for inadequate body condition. If it is determined that the horse needs immediate attention, a veterinarian of the owner’s choosing should provide those supporting procedures. These procedures may be done with supervision by the legal authorities.
Only horses exhibiting altered metabolism and having inadequate feed stores on the premises should be seized. Removing healthy horses from their home is not necessary and may often result in adverse consequences due to stress created by a new environment and untrained handlers.
If at all possible, the alleged neglected horses should remain at the owner’s farm. Removing any horse from its familiar environment, drastically changing its diet, and exposing it to a new set of handlers will usually result in stress and a further loss of body condition. In the vast majority of cases, if the intent is truly the best care of the horse, that care can best be administered in familiar surroundings. If the legal authorities require, care can be conducted under their official guidance.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is the most abused legal standard in America today. Due to biased press coverage, most “trials” are conducted before the accused ever has a chance to answer the charges. Once a horse owner has been accused of neglect, they are stained for life. If they are later proven to be innocent, the public has already painted them with a negative picture. This should not happen. It is imperative that the state authorities demonstrate adequate cause for seizure. Unsupported claims of neglect against a horse owner should be followed by a vigorous public campaign by the state authorities criticizing the parties who have filed a frivolous claim and, if possible, such parties should be prosecuted by the state.
Don Henneke, Ph.D., is currently the Director of Equine Science at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, TX. Dr. Henneke was the principal investigator in developing the Body Condition Scoring System for Horses at Texas A&M University in 1979.
The late Dr. Henneke was certainly concerned about the abuse of his condition scoring system. Interestingly, the University of California at Davis is finishing up an objective study about the scale, and they're finding that external appearances don't necessarily meet up with actual condition. For example, a horse that scores a "2" on his scale (which anyone would think is skinny) can have quite a bit of internal fat.
I don't think that anyone should support abuse or neglect. But I do think that people should be very careful in pointing fingers without knowing facts. In some cases, there certainly is willful neglect of animals, and in those cases, the authorities should certainly get involved. But many of these cases are not what they seem on the surface, and there can be many agendas involved.
Looks like abuse and neglect to me. And if Dr. Ramsey thinks they look OK...well, I have no words.
Ego much? Wow
Let my try and understand this...You, residing in Kentucky and only having a couple of controlled photo ops insinuate your opinion is more valuable than a Veterinarian, who specializes in neglect who has made a statement that conflicts with yours.
Let me see....Trust the Vet...or Trust Laura with her Maryland contacts