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Morgan horses dead & dying in Central PA *UPDATE post 96 - Final Foal Born 5/23*

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  • Morgan horses dead & dying in Central PA *UPDATE post 96 - Final Foal Born 5/23*

    Owned by attorney Rebecca L. Roberts:


    This is so close to where I live and I cannot believe this terrible suffering was taking place "under my nose," so to speak. Just awful.

    "At least five dead horses were discovered at a Palmyra farm Friday, and five others near the point of starvation were removed by the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area in a case Humane Society officials say may be a case of "horse hoarding."

    "I've never seen anything like it," said HSHA executive director Amy Kaunas of conditions on the Laudermilch Road property of Rebecca L. Roberts.

    Roberts, an attorney, did not immediately return messages left for her.

    Kaunas said 24 horses remain on the property, and an investigation is ongoing and charges are pending."
    Last edited by Anne FS; May. 22, 2013, 10:07 PM. Reason: Final foal born May 23

  • #2
    Awful! I don't really understand why they are "working with her" to improve the others. Clearly, this person can't care for them. How many still remain on the property?


    • Original Poster

      The article says there are 24 still there. 24!


      • #4
        I can't believe they leave those horses with her :-( Obviously she did nothing after 5 of them DIED. What makes them think she'll care for the others?


        • #5
          checking the name it appears that she does own Morgans


          • #6
            No excuses...

            Sometimes, though, in large scale situations like this with multiple starving horses, it's better to keep them where they are and feed them, if the owner is cooperative.
            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


            • Original Poster

              I'm wondering if they couldn't get placement for so many? I don't know if the Harrisburg Humane Society has a network ready to go to take on such a project. Maybe some one will know. I was just over at the shelter today to drop off my small animal donations (kitty litter, etc.) but there was no posting or sign to mention this on any of the bulletin boards I saw.


              • #8
                How does that work? If you leave them on the farm, does someone from the HS or AC check on them periodically to make sure that she is caring for them? Unfortunately, I have to think that someone that could do this and see/live with it day in and day out, they cannot be mentally stable. I don't understand the hoarder mentality or issues, but hoarding live/dead animals seems different to me than collecting junk/stuff all over your house or car. I can see why it might be more traumatic to try to move the horses, but I would also be suprised if there is sufficient manpower to ensure they are being cared for.

                I did a quick search on her name as well. I've been dreaming/window shopping Morgans in the mid-Atlantic and am always sort of surprised at how there seems to be so few compared to the West Coast. I am just sickened by this.


                • Original Poster

                  I suppose it's possible that Ms. Roberts owned the farm as an absentee owner, iow, she didn't live there and had someone else taking care of the animals, only of course they weren't. I'm sure there are some well-off people in the world who like to "own a string of horses" but never see them.

                  The avvo.com site says she only got her license in 2005 so looks like she's relatively young.

                  There are a number of Morgan people on COH - maybe someone who knows about her can say if she's an absentee owner or if she's been walking past starving horses on her way to work every day.


                  • #10
                    Remember Nancy Mackall and the polo ponies? Some people are just plain crazy.


                    • #11
                      I'm local and hadn't heard anything about it. There are TONS of farms in that area as it is so close to Penn National.

                      But, I have testified in abuse cases here in PA and many local humane societies and SPCAs do not like to take on large animal abuse cases due to lack of resources for rehab and funds. This is the time of year horses will start to die quickly if they haven't been cared for and it is only now just getting truly cold here.

                      Usually, a humane officer will inspect a farm and give them a time period in which to correct the issues and show progress. The humane officer will then make follow up visits to make sure the owner is complying. In the experiences I have had, most are very slow to actually seize animals usually because they have no foster situations for large animals and many do not even have contacts for transport.

                      The person I testified against more than once had been on the SPCA's radar for 7 years before I saw the situation and reported it repeatedly. They were scared to press charges against this man because he threatened law suits and threatened witnesses with physical harm. Initially, I was listed as a confidential informant but the hoarder knew I had been on the farm recently and knew I turned him in. My response was, " Come and get me. I have an attorney who eats men's b**ls for breakfast. And if I catch you on my farm or near my animals you will live to regret it."

                      True hoarders usually believe no one else can care for their animals like they can, even if they are killing them.
                      "You can't fix stupid"- Ron White


                      • #12
                        Lawyers can also think up creative ways to file suit against agencies like the SPCA. That's what happened with that Saddlebred case in NJ years ago.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks, cutter99. If you hear of any details, please let us know. I'm going back over to the shelter on Thursday and will ask then.


                          • #14
                            Do a Google search for "Beth Lynne Hoskins"... local Morgan breeder who had 70+ horses seized by the SPCA around two years ago now, I think? Horses standing on manure so high they could look over the tops of the stalls, a ton of horses that had never been handled, elf shoes, one horse had to be euthanized on the spot, all sorts of classic hoarder stuff. A judge let her get 40 of the horses back (she got to pick which ones), and the SPCA is still caring for the rest and sending her the bills, but she's suing them and it's been dragging on in court forever. And every couple of months you see a carefully staged picture of her, caked in makeup and with a ton of jewelry and three-inch nails, hugging and cooing to one of her horses and talking about how she just wants them all back. And the SPCA continues to spend $13,000 a month on board for the remaining horses.
                            "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                            Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                            • #15
                              Please keep us updated. I'm relatively close and have a huge soft spot for Morgans. They must have been neglected for quite some time :-(


                              • #16
                                Humane societies can't win - they seize all the horses and people are mad they didn't work with the owner more. They try to work with the owner and people are mad that they don't seize all the horses.

                                On a practical level - most human societies are equipped to deal with dog and cat cases, and even then the smaller humane societies can't handle large scale seizures (200, 300, 400, 500+ animals). They're underfunded and understaffed, and they often just don't have the resources. We would -like- them to have all those resources in place just in case they need to do a large-scale seizure, but most of these humane societies almost never see horse cases. So they don't see the need to spend their time putting together networks and resources. Most of them would probably welcome a volunteer who would put together such a network (just throwing that idea out there - if anyone wants to help their local community).

                                As to leaving horses with the owner - the amount and timing of check ups is going to depend on the humane societies and the animal control officers. Some are going to give the owners a list of improvements to make and check in to see that they're made. then they're going to make periodic check-ups to make sure those improvements were made.

                                I just got in a horse for the rescue yesterday that was the result of a 2 - 2 1/2 year long case. The horse was reported to animal control in 2010. They worked with the owner to get the horse back in good shape, required the owner get the horse vetted, advised on proper feeding, etc. They then made periodic check-ups. The horse started to lose weight frequently and they tried to get in touch with the owner. The owner would not return calls, was never home. So they ended up seizing the horse. I LIKE to see cases like this - where the ACO gives the owner the chance to do right (sometimes it isn't possible, but when it is possible it is the best route to go).
                                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


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
                                  Please keep us updated. I'm relatively close and have a huge soft spot for Morgans. They must have been neglected for quite some time :-(
                                  This herd of Morgans was documented as being starved & neglected in May of 2010 when the state police investigated. 13 of 33 scored a one. The case turned over to HARRISBURG HUMANE who did NOTHING!!!!!!! These horses were starving in PLAIN VIEW OF THE ROAD & NEIGHBORS!!!!!


                                  • #18
                                    Shadowland Morgans -Starving & Dying since 2010

                                    HARRISBURG HUMANE was notified of this situation in May of 2010 when state police turned it over to Harrisburg Humane who did NOTHING!!!!!!!
                                    The suffering & deaths of these horses are because Harrisburg Humane did NOTHING!!!
                                    13 of 33 horses scored a ONE by state police's equine vet who examined & photographed EACH horse.
                                    Mares & stallions running together in same herd. Shelters with holes in roofs & walls, broken support posts, filled with manure, slime filled water sources, least one horse suffering from laminitis or abscesses .
                                    Roberts was told then by vet with trooper present how to feed these horses.
                                    HHS was given this case on a silver platter & DID NOTHING!!!!
                                    There are no excuses.
                                    2.5 years later & PSP is back again because why, HHS did NOTHING & horses are still starving & dying! 28 horses counted & conditions unchanged. Now HHS wants this case? HHS had 2.5 to do something & now all of a sudden because someone spotted a dead horse they are falling all over them selves to rush in & do something.
                                    These horses are in plain view of the road, a VERY BUSY road with horse farms up & down the road. Trailers are constantly going up the road. Hershey Park is few miles down the road, as is Penn National. A Morgan farm is 7 miles down the road. Neighbors houses overlook the barn & fields. Just how many people complained to HHS????
                                    There is another case ongoing where HHS REFUSED to respond.

                                    Anyone who knows anything about these types of cases knows that "working with them" does not work. Result is always the same- horses suffer & die, they take a few, pat owners on head, come back again & repeat process until finally the situation has deteriorated until there are a bunch of dead horses & then the humane society rushes in & does what they should have done in the beginning-seize all the horses & wait for it, ARREST THE OWNER!!!!
                                    Surrendering the horses without a search warrant in PA means restitution CANNOT be ordered. Criminal restitution is not like civil. The Court will attach your wages, even if it is for the rest of your life.
                                    Search of property records reveals Roberts paid $350,000 for property which she owes over 5K in back taxes.

                                    Question is, What happened to Rebecca Roberts to turn her from breeder of Morgan sport horses into an owner who neglects? Job loss, health issues, disability, divorce? And where was her family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow horse owners to step in & help BEFORE this situation EVER BEGAN to deteriorate ????

                                    PA just allocated 75 MILLION for race horse development. Don't give me this line of crap about resources. Horse owners pay over 15 million in taxes to the Commonwealth.

                                    Bottom line HHS dropped the ball big time on this case. Remember the Red Allen case where they lost because of double jeopardy & their agent had to invoke the 5th amendment? Guarantee you this case is headed down the same road.
                                    If you can't play by the rules of the game, then GET OUT OF THE GAME! Humane societies have no business enforcing the law. Leave the law enforcement to police trained in investigating cruelty crimes & leave the sheltering & adopting to humane societies, a job they are suited for handling.
                                    This case is far from over it is doubtful that anyone, including the HHS, will be held accountable for the deaths & suffering of these horses.


                                    • #19
                                      That is why you need law enforcement trained in 4th amendment issues. Law enforcement agencies follow protocol so they don't get sued. The ones that don't get sued, as they should.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by PalmyraMorgans View Post
                                        HARRISBURG HUMANE was notified of this situation in May of 2010 when state police turned it over to Harrisburg Humane who did NOTHING!!!!!!!
                                        The suffering & deaths of these horses are because Harrisburg Humane did NOTHING!!!
                                        Isn't the suffering & deaths of these horses because the legal owners weren't providing for their most basic of needs?

                                        Not to derail but it's owner's responsibility to take care of their animals, not the government and its agencies. Certainly plausible that Harrisburg Humane dropped the ball in getting this situation under control once they were made aware of it but they did not cause the problem.

                                        The bottom line is, they aren't the ones that caused the death and suffering. That blame lies squarely on the shoulders of owners who chose to neglect, starve and otherwise abuse their animals.