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Vet working neglect case is stuck with the bill..

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  • Vet working neglect case is stuck with the bill..

    http://www.startribune.com/rural-min...l4RZ4Idr8IxydE

    I wonder if that means there'll be some minis up for adoption soon?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sansena View Post
    http://www.startribune.com/rural-min...l4RZ4Idr8IxydE

    I wonder if that means there'll be some minis up for adoption soon?
    It won't let me read it unless I sign up.

    Maybe give a synopsis? Sounds interesting.

    Comment


    • #3
      Humane Society seized 72 minis from a neglectful owner, asked this vet if she could assist with them. She agreed. They've apparently not paid her a dime for feed/hay/work/etc. since they arrived June 2018. She sent bills to the county (sheriff lead the case or something), they say it's the responsibility of the Humane Society, who says it's the responsibility of the original owner they seized them from. Says the bill is over $325,000 at this point. She was initially charging $25/day/head.

      Sounds like a mess, I feel bad for the vet. Though I'm not sure how you justify charging $25/head/day for board for minis.

      Article says Human Society won't release the minis to allow them to be adopted/rehomed.
      Custom tack racks!
      www.mmeqcenter.com/tacklove.html

      Comment


      • #4
        Happened to us when we were asked by our vet to help with a rescue's overflow.
        Some of those horses had injuries and needed treatment.
        Wen provided pens with sheds, feed and care for them.
        Then they had a fallen out with the vet.
        Tired of handling it all, they never would come feed or treat the horses, we had to, along with providing feed and medical supplies, we too told them to move the horses, which they finally did.

        They never did pay for any of that, not to the vet or us.
        They were getting donations from the stories on TV, were being paid some by the county, the sheriff had taken the horses.

        Some times, that is the way things go.

        I wonder why the vet let it go that long?

        Comment


        • #5
          That is a pretty long time to let something like this go on and keep accruing. If what she stated is true, they need to release them to be rehomed AND pay the bill. Whomever is responsible.

          Comment


          • #6
            One of the first things I use to tell my students (taught courses for training of investigators of animal abuse) was to address who was going to be paid by whom and what the budget would be especially if and when engaging the services of a veterinarian. While I empathize with those involved and the desire to help where it's needed, it would appear that the humane society wasn't forthcoming in how it was going to fund/pay for the care of the animals. Sounds like they had better start asking for donations specific to the cause; so they can continue to fund for the veterinary care. I know of multiple vets who've tried to help in such cases only to get screwed in the end. Many organizations assume that we're doing this out of the goodness of our hearts and are going to assume the loss as a charitable donation. I've also run a humane society so I am well aware of the challenges of such cases from many angles. In the end I hope the animals have a humane end be that a forever home or some other fear-free, pain-free permanent solution.
            Ranch of Last Resort

            Comment


            • #7
              Am I the only one who was startled to read the bit about trying to keep males and females separate to prevent having even more mouths to feed? I'd have thought that gelding would be an uncontroversial measure to take for homeless animals, and that the associated costs would be a drop in the bucket in the context of hundreds of thousands of dollars billed for long-term care and veterinary needs. Guess these situations are a lot more complicated than they seem from an outside perspective!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post
                Am I the only one who was startled to read the bit about trying to keep males and females separate to prevent having even more mouths to feed? I'd have thought that gelding would be an uncontroversial measure to take for homeless animals, and that the associated costs would be a drop in the bucket in the context of hundreds of thousands of dollars billed for long-term care and veterinary needs. Guess these situations are a lot more complicated than they seem from an outside perspective!
                If they don’t have the legal authority to rehome them, they probably don’t have the legal authority to make decisions regarding elective procedures such as castration.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                  Humane Society seized 72 minis from a neglectful owner, asked this vet if she could assist with them. She agreed. They've apparently not paid her a dime for feed/hay/work/etc. since they arrived June 2018. She sent bills to the county (sheriff lead the case or something), they say it's the responsibility of the Humane Society, who says it's the responsibility of the original owner they seized them from. Says the bill is over $325,000 at this point. She was initially charging $25/day/head.

                  Sounds like a mess, I feel bad for the vet. Though I'm not sure how you justify charging $25/head/day for board for minis.

                  Article says Human Society won't release the minis to allow them to be adopted/rehomed.
                  I don’t know all the details, but if they were initially managed as they would be if they were clinic patients, rather than healthy boarders at a typical barn, 25 per head, per day is dead reasonable, even cheap. In a seizure situation you would have to manage them as such initially, as you don’t know who’s pregnant, has teeth to chew with, has a brewing abscess or colic, is badly dehydrated because the water was frozen, whatever. Whether or not that level of charge was continued beyond what was a reasonable time frame for all the horses, can’t say without a lot more detail. Would it be possible for somebody to keep 72 minis and not spend 325k in a year and a half? Yes, maybe, I guess. But the financial calculus of keeping your own horses on your property and keeping somebody else’s horses (either on your personal property or a property intended for other purposes like a vet clinic) are very different. If my calculations are correct (72 horses, 18 months, 325k) the cost is about 250 a month per head. Good luck getting that kind of deal (keeping in mind this includes ALL care, including trims, meds, parasite testing and treatment, vaccines, Coggins, any medical management for lacerations, coughs, colics, and the like, etc) most places in the world, I don’t care how small they are, taking good care of 72 horses isn’t cheap.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Toblersmom View Post

                    If they don’t have the legal authority to rehome them, they probably don’t have the legal authority to make decisions regarding elective procedures such as castration.
                    That's logical...

                    What I'm surprised by is that whatever agency had the legal authority to seize the minis and place them in the care of this clinic didn't also have the authority to approve (or require) castration. It's standard procedure at my local humane society for surrendered small animals to be sterilized (dog/cat sterilization is mandatory for releasing agencies in more than half of the states in the US, after all), and intact male equines placed by law enforcement at the equine rehabilitation center I'm fairly familiar with are routinely gelded on arrival or as soon as they are sexually mature.

                    If the humane society had the authority to seize the animals but not to make decisions about procedures like castration, there must be complexities in this case that aren't obvious from what's reported in the OP article. That niggling inconsistency, the odd rationale the vet proposes for AHS not legally releasing the animals to her, plus the quote in the OP article where the vet refers to the minis as "a good breeding herd" that "weren't really mistreated" raised my eyebrow enough to google the case.

                    This article describes severe elf shoe type hoof overgrowth and deceased equines decomposing in paddocks, and states that the owner admitted to neglect and surrendered legal possession of the minis to the animal humane society on the condition that they be taken to the specific veterinarian who is now billing the humane society. It goes on to state that the veterinarian in question refused to turn over reports on forensic examination of the minis to the humane society, that other vets including at U. of Minn. were asked to evaluate the animals' condition and found evidence of severe mistreatment, and that the vet in question told the press that the animals should not have been taken because the home they were seized from was "perfect for them". This article confirms that the former owner was convicted of animal cruelty charges related to his mistreatment of these minis, and provides a photo of horrific hoof neglect. I don't know how any veterinarian could consider that care "perfect"!

                    Given that the humane society officer and the vet have told the press different stories about who agreed to assume the costs of boarding when the conditional surrender happened, I'd be surprised if there was a written contract in place re: that $25/day board cost (which I agree is very reasonable for vet boarding ... but I also don't know any vet who boards minis 10 to a stall). I don't know if the humane society couldn't authorize castration, but I can now understand why they wouldn't, given the vet's refusal to provide documentation of animals' condition while billing them hundreds of thousands of dollars (and what frankly looks like collaboration between vet and an owner convicted of neglect to obstruct humane society, if not shake it down). And given the statements made by the vet to multiple press outlets, I wouldn't be surprised if the vet personally thinks the animals should be left intact so that they can go back to the neglectful owner to breed a bigger hoarder herd.

                    After reading more, I am a bit disgusted that the Star Tribune would cast this complex situation as simply a kindly country vet who is being taken advantage of by a mean humane society that won't pay for her ministrations or let her find happy homes for the minis. There's clearly a lot more than that going on here. I'm guessing kind-hearted people will be moved to send money to this vet, and more combative types will get angry at the humane society. None of which is likely to serve justice or help the poor critters.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Around here if an animal is seized in a court case, the county pays for their feed and medical bills, but that is why nothing gets done very quickly in neglect cases. If a rescue takes the horses, then the rescue assumes responsibility and financial costs. The county auctions the animals off as soon as they are healthy. Really easy way to get cheap animals.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think the fact that animals were in good shape made it more difficult to justify anything. The vet even says they are good breeding stock. I feel bad for her. She is keeping them in stalls, so $25 per head for cleaning, feeding, and trimming, is reasonable. She mentions she had to hire someone to help with care.

                        Remember that crazy woman in Illinois that stole millions from her city so she could show well-bred QHs? Her horses were eventually auctioned off, but it took time because they were also in good shape and of decent breeding.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Don't know about MN, but in TN the owner is ultimately responsible. Under TN law a seizure for human offenses does NOT change ownership, just custody. The owner remains liable. In any judgement the court will charge them with the expenses of the entire operation (transport, care, maintenance, fines, and court costs) and determine disposition of the animals. If the owner is insolvent some of that debt can be discharged in bankruptcy but some can't. I'm not sure what happens next. Likely the matter goes to civil court and it will be hashed out there.

                          Who should ultimately "eat" the loss if the owner doesn't pay? The caretaker? The State? The Humane Society? Some combination? This is a fine example of an old legal maxim that says "hard cases make bad law."

                          G.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 4horses View Post
                            Around here if an animal is seized in a court case, the county pays for their feed and medical bills, but that is why nothing gets done very quickly in neglect cases. If a rescue takes the horses, then the rescue assumes responsibility and financial costs. The county auctions the animals off as soon as they are healthy. Really easy way to get cheap animals.
                            It's carried out the same way in Arizona.

                            As for the deeper dig on the details, it does appear that the entire case is a cluster/mess. By and large veterinarians are not properly trained to handle these cases though there is certainly more time given to the topic in school than when I graduated. Many get into these situations not realizing the resources it could end up taking to manage the case to a reasonable end. I won't even get into the lack of understanding (on the part of veterinarians) of the legality of cases involving investigations and that reports are often considered evidence, understanding chain of custody, etc. I also have heard of (handled one case) where the veterinarian got involved in a particular case because of what they thought would end up being an opportunity for them on a personal level (and I'll leave it at that). The slant the article presents on the case only gives rise to more suspicion that the veterinarian or someone in their circle tipped off the press. Unfortunately situations like these keep the victims in limbo for far too long.Totally agree that there are many details that haven't been shared.
                            Ranch of Last Resort

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                              I think the fact that animals were in good shape made it more difficult to justify anything. The vet even says they are good breeding stock. I feel bad for her. She is keeping them in stalls, so $25 per head for cleaning, feeding, and trimming, is reasonable. She mentions she had to hire someone to help with care.

                              Remember that crazy woman in Illinois that stole millions from her city so she could show well-bred QHs? Her horses were eventually auctioned off, but it took time because they were also in good shape and of decent breeding.
                              I don't think what's pictured in the news stories about this case qualifies as an animal in good shape! Elf shoes are not ok. The owner was found guilty of animal cruelty based on their condition. The holdup in determining the disposition of the animals seems to be entirely related to civil litigation regarding the costs of care, and according to this article, the owner who surrendered the horses was ordered by the court to pay those costs. There seems to be at least a legal dispute with the vet regarding the amount of the bill, and a dispute between owner and humane society regarding responsibility for care costs keeping the minis in limbo now that the criminal case is decided. As Guilherme has said, those civil suits will have to be resolved and it's likely that the courts will have to decide how the bill is handled if the owner cannot pay.

                              I don't know about Ohio, but around here, the quality of an animal's breeding has no bearing on the legalities of disposition. The Ohio case involved an FBI investigation and, after conviction, an auction of the criminal's assets to recoup embezzled money. Those legal proceedings are different from welfare-related surrender, and they take significant time. In this Minnesota case the animals were seized for their protection (not as assets). Were it not for the disputes about billing, the animals might have gone to better homes by now.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                In my part of the world, until the courts legally give ownership of the animals over to someone other than the original owner (this is not the same as them seizing them) then spay/neuter/castration can not be done.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  actually there was a prior case this vet was in, same thing

                                  https://www.nujournal.com/news/local...ial-continues/

                                  but these 70 some head were signed over to Animal Humane Society

                                  Johnson signed a document relinquishing custody of the horses to the Animal Humane Society. Streff said the agreement was voluntary but Johnson's lawyer said his client believed he had no choice.

                                  “Quite frankly, he was scared,” Kuettner said.

                                  The 72 horses were taken into the care of veterinarian Lynn Kittleson.
                                  https://www.mankatofreepress.com/new...fbedf49d8.html

                                  courtroom drama but there appears to be a shake down ongoing as the parties have traveled the road before

                                  the county is not prosperous, has declining population this may just be how things work there

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                                    I think the fact that animals were in good shape made it more difficult to justify anything. The vet even says they are good breeding stock. I feel bad for her. She is keeping them in stalls, so $25 per head for cleaning, feeding, and trimming, is reasonable. She mentions she had to hire someone to help with care.

                                    Remember that crazy woman in Illinois that stole millions from her city so she could show well-bred QHs? Her horses were eventually auctioned off, but it took time because they were also in good shape and of decent breeding.
                                    What??? Good shape? I hope you don't mean that the animals were in good shape when they were seized. If you mean that they are now in good shape, well, I would certainly hope so after being in the care of a vet for over a year.

                                    This article from the St. James Plain Dealer paints a picture of gross neglect with dead and suffering horses and severe hoof overgrowth. Sgt. Guiden of the Watonwan County Sheriff's office reported that a "majority of the horses" had overgrown hooves, some with double and triple curls, that he found a dead foal, a dead adult horse, bones and carcass remains of other horses in the paddocks, along with poor living conditions. The owner later volunteered the information that there were two more dead foals on the property.

                                    The update paints a picture that the owner, Johnson, is now wanting the horses back and there is a dispute in court. Johnson's lawyer quotes the vet who is caring for the horses, Dr. Kittleson, saying that the horses are "fat and happy." I'm sure they are -- now.

                                    I hope this gets resolved and from what I've read, I hope the owner is convicted of cruelty and not allowed to continue his hoarding practices.

                                    https://www.stjamesnews.com/news/201...-investigation



                                    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by clanter View Post
                                      actually there was a prior case this vet was in, same thing

                                      https://www.nujournal.com/news/local...ial-continues/
                                      Yikes. Vet has a documented history of being paid to testify in court that horses' poor condition doesn't constitute neglect. The defendants were found guilty of 17 counts of animal neglect/cruelty related to 5 horses and 4 minis in that case (with the same lawyer representing them as is representing the neglectful owner in the current case).

                                      There are more photos in this story. Pretty outrageous that anyone responsible for animal welfare would describe that as a "perfect home". Then again, same vet has a disciplinary action on file with the MN Board of Veterinary Medicine involving failure to properly examine an injured dog or provide adequate care, so maybe she really doesn't know an animal in distress when she sees one.

                                      Looks like the Associated Press has picked up the Star Tribune story now. I feel bad for the ponies, and for the animal lovers who are moved to send money to this vet without realizing that her role in the whole shady affair may not be completely benign.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. I was referring to their weight; not the condition of the feet. I understood the vet to mean that they were already in good weight, but, I only read the one article.

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