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Equine Welfare Watchdog
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By Maddy B. Gray
The Maine Equine Welfare Coalition officially came into being last week.
A few important messages emerged Loud and Clear from this meeting:
Horses are suffering and it’s going to take all of us in the Maine horse community (vets, farriers, private and commercial horse owners, and Maine horse businesses) to help them. All of us have a vested interest and responsibility to extend a hand and contribute to the process of improving horses' lives in the state.
There are many elements to the horse welfare problem, including but not limited to economic burdens, lack of education and resources of horse owners, politics and enforcement problems.
MEWC was not formed as a result of the recent spate of horse neglect and abuse in the media. It’s my guess, though, that more than a few folks showed up because of their frustration concerning these events!
MEWC emerged as a “next step” of sorts, suggested by members of the state’s Equine Task Force formed last year. MEWC temporary chairman Don Marean, along with Dr. Janelle Tirrell, Janet Tuttle, Meris Bickford and others present, were also members of that Task Force.
Nearly four dozen people attended, including three women from Aroostook County who joined via conference call. There were private and commercial horse owners, state and municipal welfare agents, vets, lawyers, rescue facility operators, and more.
After nearly two hours of discussion, the 46 attendees voted to adopt the basic tenants of the Oregon Equine Welfare Coalition. These charter members then signed on to several subcommittees.
For more information,
for the temporary website, set up by Donna Coffin at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Dover-Foxcroft.
Please consider getting involved!
Click here to check more info on the next meeting.
Click here to download meeting minutes.
Many, many thanks to these valuable contributors thus far:
Don Marean, Marilyn Goodreau, Meris Bickford, Michelle Melaragno, Katie Lisnik, Donna Coffin, Janelle Tirelle, and others whose names I didn't catch (my apologies).
View Reader Comments:
Excellent news! I'm sorry I wasn't able to make the meeting, but it sounds like things are off to a very good start!!
Thank you, Maddy, for posting the meeting minutes and a synopsis- I think we are off to a good start. Thank you to everyone who attended. I'm looking forward to the next meeting on Wednesday, April 21st at 6:30pm at the Farm Bureau!
Thank you Maddy for keeping up on this and putting it out there to Maine's Horse Community !!!
Sweet Christmas... Don Marean and Janelle Tirelle are not exactly the faces of horse welfare, sorry to say. Don is a commercial breeder who has obstructed several previous efforts to change how horses are treated and regarded in this state and Janelle has sat and argued with horse welfare advocates at many an AWAC meeting... both are on the AWAC and we see just how effective that organization has been at changing the plight of horses in Maine. MEWC has become just what I figured it would become... yet another stall tactic to keep any meaningful change from happening in Maine.
And you have done "what" exactly to make change? Some 50 people stepped to the plate in an effort to bring this State together with a plan to help horses and horse owners in need. I have to say that your negative attitude is very disheartening to those who are making an effort. Positive thinking is what is needed if we are to succeed so why don't you put your energy in to being helpful rather than hateful.
I was president of the original MEWC that was started by a number of concerned horse people 4 years ago, I run a horse rescue and spend my time, money and effort on DIRECTLY saving horses. I also have attended countless AWAC meetings and have held meetings right here in my own home trying to find solutions to the horse welfare problem in Maine. ... I think Don Marean's interest in this new organization is completely self-serving. He is on the Maine Horse Council which routinely sends a lobbyist to object to changes in humane law that would benefit horses. He himself is a member/lobbyist for the MSBOA which asso routinely objects to any additional protections for horses. I'm not saying Don is a bad person. Quite the contrary, he's sharp and willing to get involved to promote what he believes. He wrote, "as soon as they find a way take away our exempt status the next move would be to remove us [horses] from the livestock protections and that would not be good." Don is good at what he does, but we're definitely not on the same side of things here.
So..the first group that tried this was not successful. That doesn't mean that this one can't be. There are going to be MANY different opinions and ideas within this group and that's what will make it stronger and successful. We need people just like you who have such a great range of knowledge to help this cause out!! You have made change for horses in your own way as most of us have but as we all know it's just not enough. More needs to be done and it needs to be done in a much more organized fashion with the ability to reach out across the state so that everyone can easily be involved. Don't down this until there is reason to do so....this may be the only shot that many horses have and it can't work if ones personal feelings are allowed to get in the way. We all need to step back and look at the big picture and find a way to fix what's broken.
I'm not trying to be negative but I'm not sure the "home folk" have enough of a voice to drown out those that have a political agenda to make this new group a success.
I've been thinking heavily on this coalition and listening to the comments. Important imput from previous players should be most valuable. If this coalition has a chance perhaps we should consider the idea of placing leaders at the helm that are respected in the community been are not in an interest group at this time. Not to say that we should not allow people to join who are now interest group leaders. The explanation: This coalition does not want to portray that it has an agenda other than simply helping horses in need right?
Next meeting of MEWC is April 21 and this group has the attention of many of the lawmakers. A combined organized force is what is going to make the difference to the overall picture. We won't know if we don't try! We need to keep the heat up and show the lawmakers we are not a flash in the pan and are not going to go away! Changes are needed!
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"It is the hardest pill for all of us would-be horsemen to swallow, but it is absolutely true - if the horse is not responding properly, we are doing something wrong" - Mary Twelveponies
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