Equestrian Cruelty laws?
I'm told that the only real law regarding equine cruelty is that if the animal has "access to food, water, and shelter," it's "not considered abuse." I'd like to ask HF members how true this is. (I live in Illinois; I'm not sure if laws vary by state. It's also my knowledge that unless the horse is obviously malnourished or beaten, it will not be removed from the situation.)
I bring this up because of my farrier. Today he came to trim our pony and shod 5 horses. Before our appointment he was at a local rescue shoeing a Clydesdale. He told us how these drafts were taken from an elderly woman after her husband died because she could no longer adequately care for them. One of the horses had foundered so bad he couldn't stand on that foot and had to be euthanized.
This reminded me of a Curly horse not far from the state park, living with cattle. This horse looks as if he's never been groomed or trimmed, even in the summer heat, and he's foundered pretty badly (he spends most of his summer days standing in the creek). I haven't been in the area to check in on him. One of my friends had begged his owner to let her take the horse to a rescue but he declined. I fear the horse has died because of Laminitis.
In addition, there are also horses where a friend boards in severe condition. They have no water heaters and thus have to revert to eating snow (or licking ice) to get water. One of the horses recently suffered from a mild case of colic (he was reported to fall down, get up, and fall back down again -- repeat process) only to receive no adequate shelter (only a "barn" that has no sides) from the recent cold. We loaned the grandchild of one of the horse owners our [very expensive] blanket to give to the horse only to be turned down. Another one of the horses, the horse of the man who turned down the blanket, also has a large slice on his leg from a week or so back. My friend boards her horse there and told me of the injury, reporting that it was "***** and had frozen blood, looked like it should have had stitches." The owner did not call the vet and was using a cheap salve to self-treat the wound.
As opposed to giving the horse to the aforementioned rescue, the man plans to sell him come spring. If I were able to afford the horse I would take him before then.
My boss (the president of the company) suggests I go take a look at the horses myself, take pictures, and go to the authorities. But if the horse laws in the state are what I'm told they are, what authorities?!
Is there anything that I can do when I encounter horses in similar conditions? The local rescue is not one of "those" rescues that will go in and seize and animal for its mistreatment. I know of none such organizations that I can call. I hate leaving the horses in these homes and it breaks my heart knowing that I can do nothing to help them out of a degrading situation. However, I'd like to know more about the laws before I act.
Can anyone elaborate for me?
I did find the Humane Care for Animals Act (519 ILCS 70) (page 2, pp 5). Is this what I'm looking for?
The best place to get this kind of info is to call your local animal shelter, or the ASPCA. They have quick access to all this legal info & could easily direct you to where to find it.
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I would call police or something. It's very sad that those things happen, but they do. But it's not only these people who think of a horse as just another of their cattle, but also some people who show. I can't imagine having muscles cut in your neck and tail can feel to good. But that's still legal. Along with working horses nearly to death when they are young.
As horrible as it is, most people just don't care about animals. Even if they think they do, there is such a level of ignorance in the world. I can tell you are a caring person and want to have something done, so I'm not in any way refering to you as one of these people. But if weren't for the fact that abuse to animals usually leads up to abuse in humans and even the killing of animals can lead to killing humans; if that were not the case there would probably not be any laws against animal abuse except to keep a few people happy.
This is a very pathetic world. But anyway, I'd suggest calling the police. Perhaps if you have the accomodations you could offer to take the horse from the officials, and then adopt the animal(s) out to a more suitable owner.
In many states, direct proof of physical beating or mistreatment is also considered cruelty.
I don't know about the rest of it, but I believe in most states snow is not considered an adequate water source.
Well, everyone; I e-mailed a local rescue. They're bound to know what to do long before I would, right?
The woman tells me to go to the property -- careful not to trespass -- and look at the horses. If I see an obvious mistreatment I should call the authorities... but be prepared for them to tell me there is "nothing they can do." I've yet to find the free time to make it to the property.
My attention has been moved to a more dire situation; one I have experienced. Another livery with horses that look as though they haven't been groomed or trimmed in months. No hay. No water in the stalls (only empty buckets), excluding that of his boarders. He calls his horses "rescue," though I've been told through multiple sources that his horses are abused by means of neglecting their nutrition. Hay dealers won't work with him because he's notorious for not paying his hay bill. Several horses are ribby and their hips are protruding. They're filthy and I refuse to think about their feet (I was afraid to look!).
I know he's been reported numerous times. He used to rent the barn we currently lease... Our landlord told us how the owner left for 3-4 days with horses stalled, no food or water. He waters the horses and the owner of the horses is banging down his door, screaming about how he "monitors his horses' water intake." I suppose he monitors them by giving them 5 gallons a week? :roll:
Once I have a little bit more information I have all intentions of reporting this fellow to get those poor animals to safe homes.
Just so you know, Humane laws are area specific. Some places shelter is not required, for example.
In North Dakota, there isn't an ASPCA. There was a stable that was called in several times to the authorities. A sheriff went out and saw the horses had hay and water, so they were ok. Unless the authorities know what to look for as cruelty or neglect, they won't do anything. As long as they have food and water, it's good enough. Pretty sad!
Some people think using a bit is cruel.
Some people think that having a horse in a stall is cruel.
Some people think all horses should have hay in front of them 24/7.
I could go on, but you get the point.
There has to be a base line of minimum care. If that base line is met then there is not much people can do it about. Minimum care does not always equal what most people think optimum care is.
I believe that generally, not getting vet attention for wounds or illnesses that need it can be considered cruelty in most areas?
I do absolutely agree with AB though that there is a need for that minimum standard that isn't far fetched. My horses do not have stalls or man made shelters. They have a paddock bordered by hundreds of trees. That is adequate shelter for them. Others would call me cruel because they don't have an actual structure.
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