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Our Special Interest - Horse Welfare

Published: 4/26/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

The Ingrahams and Genthners of our Maine horse world are like cellar seepage. But instead of grey, murky water, we get starving, stricken horses.

The sump pump is us: the rescue agencies, the responsible horse-owning community, the Good Samaritans, the animal shelters, the horse non-profits, and the random suckers and soft-hearts who all help these poor horses.

In good times and in effective states, there would be someone to stop the seepage. The animal welfare program, law enforcement, and the state judicial system would come in, plug the holes, clean up the mess and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Call them the equine ServiceMasters.

One needs to look no further for effective ServiceMasters than last month in New York. In ONE DAY, the ASPCA, with their local affiliate, and a mammoth caravan of Good Samaritans removed 125 animals, including 73 horses from a perpetrator’s farm.One needs to look no further for effective ServiceMasters than last month in New York. In ONE DAY, the ASPCA, with their local affiliate and a mammoth caravan of Good Samaritans removed 125 animals, including 73 horses from a perpetrator’s farm.

In Maine, that process isn’t happening. Our otherwise gorgeous home has a constantly wet basement and painful black mold creeping up its walls while the ServiceMasters are on break, fixing someone else’s mess, fixing their own mess…Who knows?
Meanwhile, the pump is working overtime. It’s stressed to the max. It’s costly to run.
The pump can't lessen the flow, so the viscous stuff of incorrigibles keeps streaming in. Carcasses pile up.

As for our ServiceMasters, the Animal Welfare program has proven over and over that it’s happy to collect for their service. It has a budget of $1.4 million, including over $200,000 in salary and benefits to director Norma Worley and her head vet, Dr. Christine Fraser. But does anyone show up to plug the holes, clean up, and fix the problem?
When it comes to equine messes, they seem to say: “Hey, can we just SAY we were there?”

Meanwhile, we ask, “What more can we do?”
I would love to think that justice shall be served with or without a public outcry. But even IF the current incorrigibles are punished, there are others out there along with future perpetrators we’ll never hear about.

The other day, I spoke with someone involved in the Donald Genthner case. Genthner left seven horses to die and many more were headed for a similar fate before Good Sams and law enforcement officials stepped in.
He told me Genthner probably wouldn’t even do time.

Yet, in 2004, the Maine man who ran over his girlfriend’s cat got four years.

Die in a second or stand for months in your own feces and starve slowly and painfully. You choose, which is crueler?

I’m thrilled with the development of the Maine Equine Welfare Coalition. There are some talented, passionate, motivated, well-organized people on board. I’m confident they will positively and powerfully impact the horse scene. If you're not already involved, I hope you consider it.

But without change at Animal Welfare, without change at the political, law enforcement and judicial levels, those committing horse crimes, will never get what they have coming.

“Quite frankly, you horse people are a pain in the butt,” said one law enforcement official to me last week. “Sometimes I get more calls on horse-related crimes than I do for a murder.”“Quite frankly, you horse people are a pain in the butt,” said one law enforcement official to me last week. “Sometimes I get more calls on horse-related crimes than I do for a murder.”

It’s expensive to investigate (the necropsies for those Waldoboro horses costs thousands, for example) and rarely is the public rewarded with serious time for the offender, he said.

“I have as much of a problem with animal abusers as the next guy…But if you really want to have these guys do time, elect people who agree with you.”

He suggested that if the horse community wants make a difference, it should Elect officials who understand the severity of these crimes and who are willing to make a commitment towards greater enforcement, speedier prosecution, and more punitive sentencing.elect officials (District Attorneys, the governor, etc.) who understand the severity of these crimes and who are willing to make a commitment towards greater enforcement, speedier prosecution, and more punitive sentencing.

We need people who understand how horse welfare is NOT being served.
Specific solutions vis a vis animal welfare have been bounced around: subcontract it to a private agency, move it to Public Safety, increase its budget.
Again, lobbying and pushing for change will be imperative.

Casinos
Windpower
Moosehead Lake developers
Clammers

They’ve all got the ears of public officials.

How about us?

The horse community can piss and moan all it likes about injustices, but until we effect change at this level, expect the basement to stay wet. And don’t expect anyone to show up to help.

View Reader Comments:

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4/26/2010 Margy
WOW! You are so right! A great article.
4/27/2010 Missy L
This hits the nail square on the head. Beautiful job, as always. Thank you. Can this be distributed to those that don't frequent NickerNews (legislators, legislative wannabes, law enforcement, etc)? Hope you told the LE person you spoke to, that if AWP did their job, we wouldn't need to be such a pain in the ass. Until that happens, I'm prepared to remain a steadfast PITA. Thanks again. Awesome job!
4/27/2010 Lynne
Excellent article!!!! First, whomever this so called law enforement officer is.....The law is the law regardless!!! if you are called upon by horse people or not! It's your job! You should be happy there is less murder than horse absue...UGH! OMG! I am and if there were more victims of murder, you better beleive we'd call upon you to take action. Thank You! Lil Miss Norma should give up her huge salary for the greater good here...fed some horses! What the heck? Can we sue her for not doing her job? For Causing more horses to be neglected? Closing her eyes ?? at a disturbing situation ? Or does Maine just have some much of a surplus of money....what was the quote 1.4 million ? Let me read again.....That no one is doing anything here....Norma what are you doing today? To help the absued and neglected horses ; that can't speak for themselves
4/27/2010 Nora
To start let me say - A day with out a horse in my life is like a day without air. I love my horses! However, I'm all for slaughter houses. I think we the horse lover's should be the ones to regulate these slaughter houses. It's a catch 22. Because you're dammed if you do and you're dammed if you don't. I would rather have them killed and minutes,then suffer for months - I cannot imagin a slow death - sad...let me leave with this thought - when am I going to get water ?, when am I going to get food ? when am I going to get someome to love and care for me??
4/27/2010 Joy
Great article Maddy. I just love your way with words and your passion for all things equine..:).
4/27/2010 Jeannie
Great article, Maddy. You said what needs to be said. We all need to take it to the next level, starting with the do-nothing legislators.
4/28/2010 Becky
Another great article! I don't know the answer or the right path to take for change to happen but there has to be a better way, there just has to be! Abusers and neglectors of animals need to be held accountable for their actions or lack of action. To knowling abuse or neglect any animal is a crime, no different than any other crime. Until we enforce punishment on those knowingly abusing and neglecting animals things will never change. Those that do not know better need to be educated and then held to the same standards.
5/17/2010 Elaine
You are right -- "Those that do not know better need to be educated and then held to the same standards." But sometimes the do gooders are to eager to help, so much so, that they have difficulty with judgement. For instance, what some call neglect others may not and vice verse. There is not a clear guidelines of what is abuse and neglect unless its blatantly clear. This is where it gets gray and some people are to eager to cry wolf and do. This can and does cause issues surrounding true rescues and makes AWP have difficulty listening to the wolf that cries. We have such a mix of people that want to get involved in abuse and neglect of horses. Some are "lets do it now." Some are "lets get the facts first." Some are "I'll sit back and see how this comes out before I comment before doing anything." "Lots like to lead" and have a hard time letting others lead. Some are "followers." Everyone is doing their own thing and be darned. I think we need to calm down and meet in the middle to find a solution before someone gets hurt!!!! You talk about putting the pressure on and you won't give up but you are not thinking about the crazies that feed off this type of thing for excitement.

   
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