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Walkamile 10-27-2010 06:17 PM

Opinions wanted concerning owner liability of horses getting loose.
One of my town selectmen called me tonight asking for my opinion on this. He would like me to send him an email listing said opinion, for him to bring up at their (select board) next meeting.

So, what is your opinion regarding owner liability/responsibility of horses getting loose, and town having to send emergency people to get said horses back to the owner. This is at the towns expense, which is passed on to the taxpayers. Understand, this particular case has happened repeatedly, and on a dangerous road.

I know what I've suggested , but would like to hear/read others take on this.


mbender 10-27-2010 06:24 PM

Why is it the towns expense? I think if an owner has faulty fencing or a control problem they should be responsible for their animal. I have been asked by my issurance company if I want to insure my horses incase of them getting out and getting hit by a car and/or injuring someone. I think the same rules should apply with horses as it does with owners dogs.
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Walkamile 10-27-2010 06:28 PM

Very valid point mbender. The town got involved because the horses owner called saying she needed help to get them. Because of the risk, of course the town sent emergency team there.

smrobs 10-27-2010 06:36 PM

Hm, that can be a bit of a complicated issue. I mean, after all, as horse owners, we know that sometimes they get out regardless. Depending on the circumstances, the response will change every time. If the people who continually have stock out on the road have sub-par fencing, then maybe a warning next time their stock gets out to get better fencing and if they fail to try to fix it, possibly a ticket every time they get out after that. However, then someone will have to determine what is adequate fencing and then they would need to enforce the rules equally on everyone. That, in itself, would probably cost as much, or more, than what they are doing now.

I don't know how it works in your area but around here, local law enforcement gets a set salary and has set hours when they are on duty and on call and there are no less than 3 on call at a time (very small, rural area :lol:). They take care of whatever calls they receive during that time whether it's a fatality car accident or 100 head of cows out on the road. There has been quite a few times when I got a call from a deputy asking for help to put up loose stock.

ShutUpJoe 10-27-2010 06:46 PM

I asked my insurance agent if they could provide me with insurance for that cause and they said there was no such thing..... : /

Walkamile 10-27-2010 06:48 PM

Joe, do they mean if you are fined, or if someone hits your horse?

ShutUpJoe 10-27-2010 06:52 PM

I asked them if they had insurance that covered my horses getting out and someone getting injured because of it..

Walkamile 10-27-2010 07:03 PM

Joe that's interesting. I'll have to make a few calls and check into that. Pretty sure, not positive, that a home owners policy with livestock added will cover. Premiums are high, but that's the insurance biz concerning livestock.

Smrobs, yes, the fining is attractive, but like you put it will open a can of worms too. Who decides what is adequate fencing. Is a hot wire enough, or will it be 3 boards with a hot wire on top? Can get very complicated and effect people who have had no issues keeping their horses in.

This last escape involved not only the animal control officer, but as I said, the emergency personnel. While some positions are salaried, there is still the cost of emergency vehicles going out.

PaintHorseMares 10-27-2010 07:43 PM

I'm not sure if you are asking for opinions or if you are looking for examples of actual statues. My personal opinion is that you should only be held responsible if you were negligent, but after surfing a bit I found that the definition of negligence can vary. Look at this web page for some possible ideas.... Animal and Equine Law Practice: Loose Horses. Confusing and Complicated.

Walkamile 10-27-2010 08:19 PM

Thanks PaintedHorseMares, that was very interesting, and poses more questions. LOL! One of the questions is if the ACO is called into the recapture, or any other town employee, now that they are acting for town and let's say their actions inadvertently cause the horse to flee into an oncoming vehicle, is the town liable?

I spoke with a neighboring towns councilman, and he doesn't have any idea.
However, he did suggest talking with the town solicitor about this particular scenario. That may lead into whether fines should be added or not.

The more you delve into this, the more questions arise.

And I guess to answer your first question, I'm looking for anything. Actual statues or any opinions about this. I realize the statues will vary according to where you are, but info in info. Gives food for the process.

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