Are they REALLY stolen?
After seeing so many head scratchers of posts in this "Stolen Horse" forum, I feel inclined to ask some important questions.
Is it possible to just remove or modify the general public's ability to post "Stolen" horses? I recognize the need of having such a tool at your fingertips to help bring home a beloved animal, but there should be some way of substantiating these people's claims.
Idea 1: verify the profile of a given individual from an organization such as NetPosse, where they do their homework before they advertise "lost" and "stolen" horses. In my ideal horsey world, the verified poster can create "stolen" ads for horses who are legitimately stolen.
There are several benefits to this:
I know from our situations, the people owning horses who are faced with Agister's Liens and subsequent lien foreclosures generally already have very poor reputations within the local equine community. The only people who believe their lies are the people who are already on the same level of pathetic underhanded mindsets.
It would be awesome if there were some sort of overseeing organization who had a legal avenue for having a boarder-blacklist... sort of like when people repeatedly bounce checks and the checks are posted for the public to see. Credit card companies have this, apartment/home rental/sales have this, etc... why can't we? Of course, not just gossipy "These people suck" claims, but rather, substantiated "They have not paid board in x-# of months..." or "They have not paid for veterinary care in x-# of days", etc. There has to be something us barn owners can do to protect our assets.
To have people think it is our responsibility to pay for their horses, and then turn around and have access to public forums like this one, that are meant to be reputable "helpful" locations and post these things is just absolutely rediculous.
Idea 2: Create a "form" for people to post in the stolen forum instead of the normal "open" text box. The form could require that all fields be filled, and can ask questions such as:
PS: I do not think that the horseforum is in any way responsible for doing this... just a thought/suggestion!
Leonalee, I don't disagree with you, but my thought is if someone's willing to lie about an animal being stolen, they can lie about any and everything else, too.
I figure if NetPosse has the information and isn't willing to put the animal up on their website as stolen, that says volumes about the person reporting the information.
While it's a good idea, it's not really logical. If you can lie on HF, like SR said, you can lie on another verifiable source.
I know :::sigh::: However, this could help a little bit... anyone can lie, and they can do it anywhere (good point, Speed Racer) - but if there are multiple sources for verified claims to be posted, all it would do is help, right? We can't control all the different horsey and even non-horsey forums out there... but if people know that "X" site, and "Y" site are known to post only substantiated claims, it can help to cast doubt all over all of the unsubstantiated and liarpants claims out there!
I am short on time so please understand that before I reply. Leonalee, you had some very good thoughts and ideas. I appreciate them very much. But, much of what you are proposing has already been done through the work at NetPosse.com.
Many of the cases you read about in forms are NOT true STOLEN horse cases. Many of them are civil cases. The owners think they are stolen but by law they are civil. To be a true stolen case there has to be a criminal theft case number. A case can start out a criminal case and then be changed to a civil case or vice versa.
We have attempted to weed out the best we could the people who are not telling the truth. You don't know how often we have received email notices on horses, or people who have filed reports with us (and not followed up on all of the requirements) where we have seen their post all over the Internet only to find out that their "truth" was not as it was told in their version later on. One reason we have a fee is to weed out some of these people so they do not waste our time or the people who are reading our notices. That has worked better than you can imagine. The old saying,"put your money where your mouth is", does seem to work more than you think.
You can have all the questions you want on a form but it doesn't keep anyone from not telling the truth. You have to have someone to check out the facts. We do that at NetPosse.com and it takes a lot of time. This is one reason you will not see us forwarding emails that have been sent to us. Believe me, for every case you see us list we have 20 or so more that you do not see.
This is the second reason we charge a fee. Yes,we are a volunteer organization and no one gets paid as a volunteer but cases like this take a lot of time. This is time taken away from fundraising. Fundraising and donations is what keeps any nonprofit organization's doors open. We have to pay our bills like every other business. Believe me, we have all the bills every business has to pay.
With that said, if you are planning on running some kind of forum and making all of the listing fee for this sort of listing...good luck. We did it for year for free. We had to find a way to at least make as many people honest as we could. Is it a perfect system? No? Does a perfect system exist. I don't think so. Offering one with just a few question with no one following up behind them would certainly not be the answer.
We have worked very hard to become the one place for people to go to find reputable information about missing horses as well as updates on them. Why? Years of work and experience has gone into what we do. We encourage people to help us get the word out but we hope that everyone directs people back to the our site at some point. By coming to this site not only do they get the first alert info but they get the updates as well. Once the info is sent out and posted in different forums it is often not updated. And by the way, when our new site goes up in 2011 we will have a message board for the purpose in which you are stating here. We are constantly learning and constantly growing.
I hope I have addressed this properly. Again, I am up against a time restraint and I don't do my best thinking when in a time crunch.
What I hate was that there were a couple false stolen horses posted in this section... like trying to find a horse the they SOLD just to try to buy it back.
I'm so greatful for your post, Netposse! I am aware of what awesome and diligent and thorough work you guys do... The thing to do is just to hope that anyone weighing in on a "stolen" horse situation takes the time to at least look at your guys' website to see whether or not the claims people make in public forums have back-up from you guys. I am glad for all of the skeptical readers who ask posters of stolen horses good questions! Thank you!
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