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Abandoned Horse - what do you do with it?

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  • Abandoned Horse - what do you do with it?

    Title says it all. Horse was abandoned where I am currently keeping mine. Owner refuses to communicate. She's a 13 year old with no training. Cute little mare. QH and Holsteiner cross with no papers and as sound as they come. Her only shortcoming is lack of training. So far PO and I have tried all rescues, word of mouth, nobody wants her - no surprise there. But what do you do? Put her on Craig's list and let her take her chances? For obvious reasons she hates to do that to the horse, but she doesn't want her nor can she afford to keep her indefinitely. And Lord knows I'm not in a position to take her right now. If I were employed with good insurance I would at least get her started, but I just can't take the chance right now and PO is not a trainer and can't afford to put any money into her.

    For those who have had this happen to them, what did you do?

  • #2
    I believe that whomever had the agreement with the owner regarding boarding would be wise to follow legal steps to get official "ownership" of the horse. Then dispose of it as they wish - sell or give away, or whatever else the new owner deems appropriate.

    If your state has a horse council, they may be a good one to ask about the steps to obtaining ownership. Illinois has provisions to put liens on animals/property for non-payment of board.

    Here is part of discussion on another forum regarding the very same issue:

    Boarding barn operators in Illinois have a new tool for recouping costs of caring for horses abandoned by their owners under a new bill signed by that state's Governor Pat Quinn on Aug. 28.

    The legislation, HB 3012, amends the Illinois Innkeepers Lien Act to allow boarding barn operators to place a lien on animals and personal property belonging to owners who have not paid fees for boarding or other services. Under the measure, the value of the lien is connected to the value of unpaid boarding and other expenses for the animal. After providing written notice to owners, barn operators may sell the animal and other qualifying personal property at a private or public sale.

    Frank Bowman, executive director of the Horsemen's Council of Illinois, said the new law was necessary to support barn operators whose clients have become unable or unwilling to pay fees for their animals' care.

    "The reluctance of the economy has caused some owners to quit coming to the barns or to quit paying their bills," Bowman said. "We call it 'abandoning in place,' but barn operators must still provide care for the horses."

    Casey Ratay, owner of St. Charles Farm in St. Charles, Ill., said he has long had provisions written into boarding contracts pertaining to unpaid board and other care bills. He believes the new law will help him enforce those provisions.

    "I've been taking care of those situations privately through my lawyer," Ratay said. "But this (law) will be very helpful."

    I hope things work out positively for the people and horses involved.
    Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


    • #3
      Check with the local / state laws on abandoned livestock. Each state varies in what must be done beforehand. To sell an abandoned horse without following the legal steps of your state can result in the property owner being charged with selling stolen property.
      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


      • #4
        Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
        Check with the local / state laws on abandoned livestock. Each state varies in what must be done beforehand. To sell an abandoned horse without following the legal steps of your state can result in the property owner being charged with selling stolen property.
        Most (all?) states have a process to legally seize abandoned livestock, but it needs to be followed properly before your BO sells the horse. Even if there is a clause in her boarding contract allowing her to seize a horse, she will probably have to follow the official legal process (at least that's been the case in two states I've worked in).

        A lot of BOs I know have taken the stance of "she's out of contact, she won't care," but you might be surprised...we all know horse people can be batty and I've seen one come back after two years of no contact and no payments trying to pick up her horse. Lucky for the BO he'd followed the law to the letter so even though she called the cops on him there was no problem. Not sure what would have happened if he hadn't done things properly but it certainly had the potential to get a lot messier.
        exploring the relationship between horse and human


        • #5
          Here, you go to the sheriff's office and they make a report of an abandoned animal and tell you how to proceed to claim ownership.

          An attorney will sure help not to end up being called a thief, if you take the wrong steps in disposing of something you don't own.


          • #6

            A boarder abandoned the horse? Did the barn person have a contract with that person? How long has the horse been "abandoned"? If there was a contract and I knew where to get in touch with the person, I;d first send a letter return receipt telling them to come and get their horse within X days or else it was going to be standing in their yard, not mine. And I'd file in small claims court. You do not need an attorney to do that.


            • #7
              Originally posted by nashfad View Post
              You do not need an attorney to do that.
              They really shouldn't need an attorney no matter what. Agister's liens are a lot easier and cheaper than small claims court in my area at least--here, all you do is send the owner a registered letter of intent to claim the horse if the bill isn't paid in full within 30 days (our horse council pretty much has a form letter available), then if they don't pay it in full in that time you place an ad in the legals section of the newspaper that there will be a public sale at such and such a time. All that means is that you have to be there on that date and time and if people show up to bid (something I've never heard of actually happening) then you take their offers. Then if the horse doesn't sell at the "public sale," you can place her however you want or keep her or whatever.

              So basically, you're out the cost of feeding the horse for another 30 days (which you would be anyway most likely--never seen small claims move particularly fast), the price of the registered letter and the price of the classified ad. If the owner does remove the horse within those 30 days (or tries to) without paying, you can call the cops as once you've initiated the lien she can no longer just take her horse. It's really easy.

              Of course the process does vary from state to state but you should definitely look into it and see what your state's laws are like. The process is designed to be simple and affordable since it would probably be a lot less appealing to rent space to people if you had to hire a lawyer every time someone quit paying their bill.

              As far as what to do with her once she's yours (or your BO's, I guess ), I'd probably offer her for a very low price on CL and just screen the buyers if you want her to go to a good home. I've sold several horses that way with success not just in moving them but finding a good home. Maybe try the Giveaways section here or something. She's not really marketable as a sale horse but it sounds like she might be a fun project for someone.
              exploring the relationship between horse and human


              • #8
                As has been repeated throughout the thread, you must check with local municipality and state laws as to what steps to take and how best to deal with an abandoned horse. The question posed was what do "you" do when faced with this? Well my husband is the state veterinarian. In Arizona it's the department of Ag (ie, the state vet) who seizes all abandoned, neglected or abused livestock; so, I just hit speed dial. I also am the medical director of a private humane society. We house state confiscated livestock for the AZ department of Ag (well those found in our county, the dept of ag has similar arrangements with other facilities across the state) during the time of seizure. Then the state vet holds a public auction if no one (the owner) has stepped forward prior to the completion of the seized/hold period. The animal goes to the highest bidder. If no one bids, the animal(s) is hauled to the rendering plant, euthanized and the carcass is left there for their disposal/use. The state statutes are very clear as to who can make claim to abandoned livestock which in our state the terms livestock still applies to horses.
                Ranch of Last Resort


                • #9
                  FYI: In Georgia the Barn Owner must have a boarding license. If the barn is unlicensed, the BO cannot hold the horse.

                  I found the PDF for you: http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/...slienlaw-2.pdf
                  <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                  • #10
                    If you are in GA, you can call your state ag agent, the ag dept handles horse cases, and turn the horse over to him. The state will auction the horse off.

                    Our laws concerning horses left at boarding barns are very liberal. If your BO has a license, she can simply call and leave a message on the owner's phone. I think this law is unconstitutional, but no one has challenged it. So have BO send letter, certified RETURN RECEIPT REQUIESTED, to owner's last known address. Letter should demand full payment for back board within 10 days of receipt of letter. This will protect your BO if the lien statute is ever challenged.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks all for the information. You've filled in a few holes and given her a few more avenues that I'll pass on.

                      I feel sorry for the horse. Horses are sad when they don't have people, and she's a people horse.


                      • #12
                        If you know the mare's sire you could contact that stallion owner and ask them if they might know anyone that might be interested... it's a long shot, but you never know. (after all the legal stuff of course.)


                        • #13
                          Florida Statutes Chapter 713.65
                          ... _. ._ .._. .._


                          • #14
                            Do most people assume that a BO wants the abandoned horse(s) because I sure don't. I am always reading "get a lien" on the horse. That is why I threaten to bring it to their yard, not mine. I have not been pushed to that limit yet but most folks that know me know that I very well might do it and wouldn't push me too far. I'm nice but I'm not your carpet. And yes it is sad for the horse. And even if they come get the horse you can still do small claims to get $$ owed to you.