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Abandoned horse... great

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  • Abandoned horse... great

    So it has happened to me. Someone put their horse into the five acre pasture I lease. It's a nicely behaved older - looking gelding. I went to all the horse owners that are close, and no one is missing a horse, nor did anyone recognize the picture I had on my phone. I called the sheriff's office and the deputy pretty much said I was stuck feeding/caring for this horse until the owners either show up or I have gone through the motions of finding them.

    Has this happened to you or anyone you know? What is my best course of action? Even though none of the surrounding neighbors said they know the horse I figured I'd put flyers up anyway. (like at the Post Office, local churchs, feed store, etc). Anything else I should or could be doing?
    Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

  • #2
    What you can do depends on the laws in your state and maybe also county.
    The police should already told you what to do next, maybe they have animal control shelter personal that knows what you have to do you could ask?

    Happens here once in a while close to town, for what I heard, but mostly they are left loose or tied to a fence, not tucked nicely in someone's pasture.


    • Original Poster

      We don't have animal control here, just the sheriff's office. The deputy told me I was "responsible" for the horse until either the owners are found or I have exhausted the possibilities of finding them. That is nebulous to say the least. I'll check back with the s.o. on Monday, but in the meantime??????
      Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


      • #4
        It's happening more and more in central NJ. Here, the law is the same for horses as for stray dogs and cats - if not claimed within seven days, it can be put up for adoption. Helping Hearts Equine Rescue have taken in two within the past year or so found wandering around this affluent area. The owners of Camelot Auction, subject of many COTH threads, are currently caring for three abandoned horses. One was put in their front field, another emaciated animal was put in a paddock at a top h/j barn, and the third was also dumped at another farm and they agreed to take it in.


        • #5
          Most states also set a per diem fee you can expect to collect from the owners should they show up. The time period varies from sate to state, but it is usually a one to three week period.

          Usually you are required to post a "Found" or "EStray" notice in the newspaper that is the official journal for your town or county as a notice you have they horse and giving a way for the owenr to contact you. Doing this is considered "trying to find the owner."

          If the owner does not come foward after the prescribed "holding time" is over, you are then "free" do do as you please with the horse. When you place your "nitice" ad in the papper, do not describe the horse in any great detail. People with less than stirling motives looking for free horses often reply to these ads to claim the horse advertised.

          Usually you have to put a date and vicinity. So your ad would be something like this-- "Found in my leased pasture Feb. 14 near Horse Lover's Lane, one horse. Owner, please call XXX-XXX-XXXX to identify."

          I hope he gets a good home, or if he were stolen and then dumped, that his owenrs find him. You might notify netposse.com about finding him. Sometimes stolen horses do turn up months later and miles or states away from where they were taken.


          • #6
            This happened to a trainer I know. She also tried to find the owner, but ended up liking and keeping the mare. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
            "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio


            • #7
              You might also contact local vets - they are more likely to know the horse.


              • #8
                We had two strays wandering the road last year and took them in for fear of a car hitting them. We had a pretty good idea of where they were from since one was a donkey and we'd been hearing it bray. We do have AC and the neighbor did know the guy, nobody wanted to go past the gate onto the guy's place to put them back, us included, it just took three days for him to answer the calls and show up and drag them home so he could feed them.

                We also had it happen at the old house and got roughly the same answer from the Sheriff - and we had AC there, not answering the phone as it was a Saturday or Sunday.

                That time I started with phone calls to everybody I knew and some I didn't, and we stood out in front of the house with this "estray" pony stopping everybody that passed by and asking them did they know and could they ask their neighbors. The authorities were no help AT ALL, we got the same speech as you did, just keep it in the yard, WTF this was basically vacation home suburbia!
                We happened to have had a goat and did have a bale of alfalfa so we were ahead of most people.

                That pony showed up at about 4PM and by 9PM (after dark) the flagging people down method had gotten one neighbor to call the neighbor that had the pony and they came down and collected her. We finally got a call from AC on Monday, needless to say I was NOT happy with them.

                In your case, I'd go door to door as you did, I'd check Netposse (good idea, that), but on Sunday you are sort of SOL except for the flagging people down method. You could try calling pastors of local churches - ours had the prayers and news section after the service.

                Monday go down the list of veterinarians and farriers, local barn owners, if you can flag down the mail carrier, some of them know who has what and where. Call your county authorities regarding the policy for the "taking up of estrays" in your area (KY has it in the fence laws online and it is archaic - 25 cents to have written in the book the local magistrate must keep, a dollar for a fine, two years to prove title etc).

                Next step is making generic fliers and posting them at the feed store. I'd also put a big sign on the fence where all the horses are - "is one of these horses yours?" That's vague enough hopefully to stop the "free horse" types.

                I'm thinking that it could take up to a month for an owner to, say, get back from vacation. The next door's pony and donkey was taken up by yet another neighbor last Monday and it took the guy three days again to come down and fetch the donkey, which escaped to our house well after dark on the same day.

                Good luck - I remember it being extremely stressful, even when we had a good separate pasture set up - you have to feed these animals, or turn them out to run loose again, and the pony and donkey hadn't seen a farrier or probably a vet for a while.

                ETA that first pony lived three miles away from where I ran across it, it had been chased by dogs we thought, in order to make it all the way there. It was very happy to find a person and would have followed me in my car home. One neighbor was kind enough to tell me what direction it had come from, galloping.
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • #9
                  And in addition, I'd ask EVERYBODY, not just the obvious horse owners nearby. My coworker a couple of weeks ago found a horse in her front yard out in the country and visited all her neighbors - she wound up lending her t post pounder to a new horse owner neighbor that she didn't even know had horses. He was, to put it bluntly, underprepared.
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible


                  • #10
                    I would go to any local churches you have near you today wiht a flier and ask to have it announced to the congregation about the "found " horse in your pasture. I also would contact your states brand inspection department and see how they handle estray livestock. Ours puts up estray notices and then sells them to the highest bidder via sielent auction. If no one bids, the state takes it to the livestock auction and it sells there.


                    • Original Poster

                      Hey thanks for the good ideas! I'm embarrassed to admit I totally spaced about calling the local vet clinics. This morning I put up flyers and talked to the one horse barn in this area (everybody else is like me, just a couple of horses) they said if no one claimed it by the end of the week they would take responsibility for it. They have a lesson program and I bet they are thinking the horse might fit. It really is a nice gelding, pretty laid back and friendly.

                      I've heard about people dumping their horses but when it happens to you it is shocking. I can't imagine leaving my horse in a strange field with other horses and then just driving away.
                      Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


                      • #12
                        I'd follow ReSomething's suggestions, but honestly...in this case, it's a fenced pasture, and I'm assuming not something like single-strand hotwire that's easy to hop? I'm guessing that unless the horse is stolen and the thief got nervous and dumped it somewhere horsey-looking, the horse isn't a stray or runaway and wasn't in there by accident. The owner might not WANT to come forward.
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                        Steampunk Sweethearts


                        • #13
                          I can imagine some well wishing passer by putting a loose horse into a field with other horses though - I'm pretty sure that's how the runaway pony and donkey ended up in the other neighbor's field commingled with his horses and eating his round bale.
                          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                          Incredible Invisible


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                            I can imagine some well wishing passer by putting a loose horse into a field with other horses though - I'm pretty sure that's how the runaway pony and donkey ended up in the other neighbor's field commingled with his horses and eating his round bale.
                            A well-wisher too stupid to walk up to the house & ask re: the horses before just sticking them into the field?


                            • #15
                              Under what law are you responsible for the care & feeding of this animal? I would sure be asking the authroities to produce the law. If it were a bag of cash you found, you darn well know it would not be left in your custody.

                              Pretty nice of law enforcement to saddle up with a "great financial burden." Feed, deworming, shots, farrier care. How do you know what that horse is infecting your pasture with? Worm dump! Let alone what infectious diseases it could be harboring! What if it had brought strangles?

                              Also what other legal liabilities have they just saddled you with, with that animal? What if it hurts someone? Since they have forced it into your custody, can someone then sue you? Say, someone standing at the fence along the road looking at it, & it reaches over & bites them? What if that horse hurts you?! Permanently disables you? What if hurts or disables one of your horses/animals? What if you are eventually trying to rehome it & it hurts the prospective new owner? What if it simply turns into a beaver & starts chewing your fencing to death? *big money*

                              Law enforcement has just saddled you with a financial & legal nightmare.
                              Sorry to be such a Debbie downer, but there is no way I would want to be in your shoes right now.
                              "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


                              • #16
                                I wouldn't be surprised if law enforcement gave a similar answer around here but in AZ the Dept of Ag is responsible for lost, neglected or abandoned horses. They pay a per diem for you or someone they contract with to take care of the horse for 7-10 days depending on the circumstances. They try to find the owner. If one is not found they hold a public auction. If the horse is not sold (a penny would buy most here), they are taken to the rendering plant and euthanized. If you have a Dept of Ag or state veterinarian in your state I would contact them and see if any similar laws exist.
                                Ranch of Last Resort


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bacardi1 View Post
                                  A well-wisher too stupid to walk up to the house & ask re: the horses before just sticking them into the field?
                                  Uh, yes. Only pasture nearby + loose horse = horse belongs in that pasture to a lot of people, especially somebody trying to get a loose horse off a public road before somebody gets killed running into it.
                                  You really think some law enforcement is going to go down the road asking everybody - H no - he's going to put it in the most logical place and leave a note on the door of the house, if there even is a house.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #18
                                    Make sure you keep him quarantined from your own herd! That always makes me nervous with the dumpers - who knows what kinds of worms or problems they could have? Best of luck in finding his owners or someone to take him.
                                    www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob


                                    • #19
                                      Please contact NetPosse

                                      I believe that NetPosse will take a report for free on a found equine. Never know, he could be a stolen horse that became too hot to hang on to.
                                      They have a FB page - Stolen Horse International.


                                      • #20
                                        Search your state's law database for 'estray' or 'stray' horses. If that doesn't work, try estray or stray livestock and finally abandoned horses/horses/livestock.

                                        I've dealt with a lot of 'estray' horses and donkeys in Texas in the last year or so. I find that many counties have so little experience with estray livestock that they give out the wrong advice. I've heard people told they could just keep the horse (not true in Texas), that they could give the horse away (not true in Texas), that the horse was their problem (also not true in Texas).

                                        If you can find the law, then you have a better chance at getting your local authorities to enforce it. If the sheriff's department (or whoever has the authority/jurisdiction in your area) won't follow the law, try contacting the district attorney or county attorney's office.

                                        Good luck.
                                        Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                        Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com