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Vet working neglect case is stuck with the bill..

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  • #21
    Wow, x-halt-salute! That puts it all in a different light.

    Poor ponies!

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
      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.
      Yeah, from that first article it sounded like overreach by the authorities and a do-gooder vet left holding the bag after everyone else decided the minis were not their problem ... but those poor minis are just a pawn in some larger situation.

      To me the additional details in other articles make it sound like the setup for a season of the tv show Fargo. Incompetent and/or nefarious actors in rural Minnesota conspire to shake down local law enforcement and humane society over the care of some miniature horses. Add in some "in over their heads" moments where the scheme goes awry and the characters get dragged deeper into crime and a few darkly humorous death scenes and you'd have yourself a decent Coen brothers spinoff.

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      • #23
        Dang! You have a movie script!

        I hope it all turns out for the ponies. Maybe the attention will allow them to move on. 8-10 per stall doesn't sound like a good idea for long.

        Comment


        • #24
          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.
          As you can imagine, this came up on the veterinary message groups. I crunched numbers. Current total bill was 325k. For 18 months, that came to 18k per month--but for 72 ponies. So, $250 per pony per month. Or $8 per pony per day. Dog boarding costs about $30 per day. When you add in that she's probably had to do way more documentation than a normal boarding situation; $8 per day seems pretty reasonable. Add in that some of this was mare and foal care, what's she's asking doesn't seem excessive to me.

          I strongly feel that whoever authorized the seizure (appears to be the county) needs to pay her. They can then be the ones to go after the owner for payment. But, it is utterly inappropriate to not pay this veterinarian. She agreed to help--but not for free. It should not be up to her to go after the owner for payment. She's working for whoever authorized seizure of the animals. Likely means county is going to take a financial hit, but she needs to be paid

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          • #25
            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!
            Likely doesn't have the authorization to take the "extreme" action of gelding. My guess was that maintaining adequate fencing might be proving difficult. Money for repairs is likely in short supply if she's been paying for feed and other supplies and not getting paid

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            • #26
              Originally posted by Marshfield View Post

              As you can imagine, this came up on the veterinary message groups. I crunched numbers. Current total bill was 325k. For 18 months, that came to 18k per month--but for 72 ponies. So, $250 per pony per month. Or $8 per pony per day. Dog boarding costs about $30 per day. When you add in that she's probably had to do way more documentation than a normal boarding situation; $8 per day seems pretty reasonable. Add in that some of this was mare and foal care, what's she's asking doesn't seem excessive to me.

              I strongly feel that whoever authorized the seizure (appears to be the county) needs to pay her. They can then be the ones to go after the owner for payment. But, it is utterly inappropriate to not pay this veterinarian. She agreed to help--but not for free. It should not be up to her to go after the owner for payment. She's working for whoever authorized seizure of the animals. Likely means county is going to take a financial hit, but she needs to be paid
              I agree with your numbers being reasonable. However the vet was stupid to not get paid for 18 months. Plus if you read this article that was posted earlier this vet does not appear to be the rescues/county's normal vet.
              https://www.stjamesnews.com/news/201...-investigation

              Quote from article: Streff (AC agent) asked Johnson (owner) if he would turn the horses over to him. Johnson agreed as long as the horses were take to Dr. Shirley Kittleson a vet in Sherburn. Streff confirmed with Dr. Kittleson that she would conduct a forensic examination of the animals and provide the reports to him. On August 13, Dr. Kittleson informed Streff that, based on her attorney’s advice, she would not turn over the reports to him. Streff then provided the photos and video evidence of the horses’ condition to a vet at the University of Minnesota and a vet in Benson.

              While she agreed to help she did not fully provide the help she agreed to such as the reports. The fact that Dr. Kittleson initially agreed to provide reports and then eventually refused to provide them complicates things further. She did not provide some of the services that were agreed upon. By the time they realized she wouldn't provide reports it may have been hard to have their own vet examine the horses to determine their condition at the point of taking possession. Likely due to being in the vet's care their condition hopefully had improved but in the process would have potentially weakened any case against the former owner. It does not sound like this was an a true seizure. It sounds like the owner voluntarily relinquished the ponies but under certain conditions. One of those conditions was that the equines would go to a particular vet. I think that muddied the water as to who was paying for the care.

              I have a bit of a problem that this vet took on 71 minis with no signed contract with either the owner or the agency providing any outline of fees. Why would anyone take on 71 equines and not have any written agreement with anybody to pay the fees?

              Quoted: According to the Vet no agreement was made where Johnson or herself would be responsible for the cost of boarding. While at the Clinic she stated that the bottom line is that the horses should have not been taken from there home and that their facility in Odin is perfect for them.

              There were dead horses on the property including in the pen, they had elf slippers for hooves, the water was nasty, the pens were mud and there was no food. I don't see how she could say "their facility in Odin is perfect for them".

              Don't get me wrong I think that the county or the rescue should have made it clear much sooner than 18 months that they weren't footing the bill. But I think the vet did not practice very good business procedures in not getting it in writing who was paying for the board, treatment and hoof care.
              I also think that after a few months of non-payment the vet should have demanded either payment or that the horses be removed from her property. If this was a normal boarding situation for a single horse most people would think that the BO should have followed their state's boarding lien process or abandonment process long before 18 months. Let alone 71 equines.


              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Marshfield View Post

                Likely doesn't have the authorization to take the "extreme" action of gelding. My guess was that maintaining adequate fencing might be proving difficult. Money for repairs is likely in short supply if she's been paying for feed and other supplies and not getting paid
                A quick search shows that there are several lawsuits active and threatened regarding the billing, and that the vet refused to cooperate with the agency with legal custody of the animals once they were at her facility. I believe the agency in possession of the animals did/does have the authority to geld. The humane society agent in charge of the case has been described as having discretion over disposition of the animals and has recommended in press articles that castration, adoption, and in some cases euthanasia are in order. But a clusterf*** of litigation and a breakdown of communication with the vet seem to have prevented any of that.

                As for payment, news reports say the criminally negligent owner was ordered by court to pay restitution to cover the care of the animals.

                I'm not as convinced as you that the vet is a victim here. The stories that aren't playing a human interest angle show some problematic actions on her part that have interfered with these minis being moved on to better homes.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
                  Don't get me wrong I think that the county or the rescue should have made it clear much sooner than 18 months that they weren't footing the bill. But I think the vet did not practice very good business procedures in not getting it in writing who was paying for the board, treatment and hoof care.
                  I also think that after a few months of non-payment the vet should have demanded either payment or that the horses be removed from her property. If this was a normal boarding situation for a single horse most people would think that the BO should have followed their state's boarding lien process or abandonment process long before 18 months. Let alone 71 equines.

                  From the St. James Plaindealer article, the billing dispute arose about 6 weeks after the surrender of the minis, and the humane society and county declined to pay the tens of thousands of dollars billed at that point. It's unclear why the vet would choose to hang onto the minis for another 16.5 months instead of asking the custodial agency to find another facility to house them once it became clear that nobody intended to pay her.

                  That she started talking to the press about what a great owner the neglectful guy was and how the ponies shouldn't have been removed from his care right around that time is suggestive, though.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    These large numbers of animals caught up in individual hoarding cases do create massive problems for anyone trying to step in and help. That is definitely why it is often hard to get law enforcement to move on it. Where and how do the animals all go? How are they all to be fed and cared for? And of course ... who gets the bill?

                    Some law enforcement has learned how to farm out the animals to more than one rescue, thus spreading the burden around. But of course that is still a large problem for LE of record keeping, follow-up and decision-making. For each and every animal.

                    The special cases that are close to death or needing humane euthanization are a whole thing. The special cases that need major vet intervention, but otherwise have a good prognosis, are another whole thing. Someone has to have authority to make decisions, someone has to accept accountability, someone has to pay the bill or donate what's needed.

                    Even for the animals who are now getting good care and eventually finding new homes, somehow it is common for a few to be left over, as it were. Just not getting adopted. Someone has to take them for their natural life, whatever reason it is that they are not being adopted. Any rescue that accepts a number of animals from a hoarding case may end up with a few rescue-lifers on their hands.

                    Who will be the "someone's" who are so desperately needed to help? Who has the resources, space and time?

                    Animal hoarding is one of the most destructive forms of neglect, not just to the animals.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Moonlitoaks View Post
                      ........
                      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.
                      That was not a rescue case. The horses were in good facilities and well-cared for, before and after they were seized by the FBI. That was a financial legal case, and the horses represented assets to be sold for recovery of $$$ .

                      The reason the time was necessary was to get through the complex legal processes that put the government in position to sell them. They were sold in one auction. These were not rescue adoptions or kill-pen pulls, but outright sales of nice horses to new owners.

                      The "crazy woman" was not so crazy. She was an embezzler who got away with it for over 20 years, I think it was, and spent a lot of the stolen money on high-end horses and horse showing.

                      Not truly comparable to rescue.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        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.
                        If I recall correctly, Rita Crundwell cooperated with authorities and permitted the sale of the animals before she herself was put on trial/situation was settled. Yes the upkeep on all of them for the duration of the legal case would have been horrifying.
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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Marshfield View Post

                          As you can imagine, this came up on the veterinary message groups. I crunched numbers. Current total bill was 325k. For 18 months, that came to 18k per month--but for 72 ponies. So, $250 per pony per month. Or $8 per pony per day. Dog boarding costs about $30 per day. When you add in that she's probably had to do way more documentation than a normal boarding situation; $8 per day seems pretty reasonable. Add in that some of this was mare and foal care, what's she's asking doesn't seem excessive to me.

                          I strongly feel that whoever authorized the seizure (appears to be the county) needs to pay her. They can then be the ones to go after the owner for payment. But, it is utterly inappropriate to not pay this veterinarian. She agreed to help--but not for free. It should not be up to her to go after the owner for payment. She's working for whoever authorized seizure of the animals. Likely means county is going to take a financial hit, but she needs to be paid
                          Yes, I understand math, I was simply commenting on what the article stated was her first bill sent to the county, $25/head/day. Obviously, she lowered her rate over time, as $25/day/head would be nearly $1million after 1.5+ years.
                          I agree with the rest.
                          Last edited by mmeqcenter; Jan. 7, 2020, 08:25 PM.
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                          • #33
                            One article I read stated that original owner signed over ownership to the Humane Society. I'd guess the argument would be whether the county needs to pay the bill or the humane society. But, goodness auctioning the minis off won't even come close to covering the bill

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post

                              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.
                              I've already seen at least one gofundme on social media for the vet, and the comments pretty much slammed her for the same reasons we are here. Also, it included a picture. I hope no one was picturing actual stall-stalls; these were temp pens made of mini-panels set up in what looked like a hay barn, with the minis shoe-horned in. Lemme see if I can locate...
                              COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                              "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

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                              • #36
                                Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post

                                Yes, I understand math, I was simply commenting on what the article stated was her first bill sent to the county, $25/head/day. Obviously, she lowered her rate over time, as $25/day/head would be nearly $1million after 1.5+ years.
                                I agree with the rest.
                                Often early care of rescued animals is more costly as you get them over the hump of neglect, through a period where stress and changes to their environment and feed, etc can make them ill so that monitoring them and nipping issues in the bud as they arise is time and resource consuming
                                Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

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                                • #37
                                  For a horse that does not have pasture and is stall kept, even a mini, hay and bedding alone would be over $8 a day in my area.

                                  Comment


                                  • #38
                                    Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
                                    For a horse that does not have pasture and is stall kept, even a mini, hay and bedding alone would be over $8 a day in my area.
                                    Really? How much hay do you think a Mini gets in a day? My neighbours who breed and compete with theirs feed half a flake (slice) per animal per feeding. That's roughly one small (40 pound) bale per week for each animal. As for bedding: I keep one very small Shetland in his own small box stall and he goes through one bag of shavings every ten days or so. Three bags a month, give or take. I'm glad it is not as expensive here as it must be for you!
                                    No matter where you go, there you are

                                    Comment


                                    • #39
                                      Originally posted by Beck View Post

                                      Really? How much hay do you think a Mini gets in a day? My neighbours who breed and compete with theirs feed half a flake (slice) per animal per feeding. That's roughly one small (40 pound) bale per week for each animal. As for bedding: I keep one very small Shetland in his own small box stall and he goes through one bag of shavings every ten days or so. Three bags a month, give or take. I'm glad it is not as expensive here as it must be for you!
                                      Are you sure they are all minis? They are called minis, ponies and horses in the various articles. The one picture has the vet standing next to a pen full of them, and some of them are almost as tall as the panels that are used to keep them penned. The panels next to the vet look to be close to 4’ tall to me. Maybe the vet is tiny?

                                      Comment


                                      • #40
                                        Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                        Are you sure they are all minis?
                                        I thought the reference was to "72 Miniature Horses" but that may be inaccurate? The horses in question were called 'breeding stock' by the vet - registered Minis are pretty small, depending on which registry under 36 inches or under 38 inches tall. Maybe the vet is petite?

                                        No matter where you go, there you are

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