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:
- HorseForum.com will become a reputable avenue for such organizations to reach people in the public who may not otherwise go to the NetPosse website regularly to see about "stolen" horses.
- People who may be innocently involved (i.e. Barn owners who have an agister's lien on an equid) would be semi-protected from libel. I say "semi" because it would not prevent people from posting these fraudulent ads elsewhere in the forum, but it would help readers decipher "reputable" v "disgruntled former horse owner".
- Missing horses will still be displayed in a forum other than the NetPosse sight where the general public might actually see it. It is obvious that everyone has some draw to drama, so I assume it would be a hit on the forum.
- It protects horses who were not actually "stolen" in helping them find a good new home, and helps keep them more secure in the homes they are in. Who wants to own a horse with a questionable title?
I can say from first hand experience that the utilization of these forums by people who are crooked has the potential to create a very limited life potential for these beautiful, innocent animals. This limited potential includes being rehomed to beautiful, loving well-meaning and INNOCENT people, participating in competition, and so forth. I hope the current owners can take comfort in the fact that the reputation of the person claiming "STOLEN" is already extremely tarnished by their own doing, and those who know the former owners who are making these claims KNOW the truth behind those claims.
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:
- Was this animal boarded?
- If so, were all board payments up to date?
- Is this animal the subject of any ongoing or prior legal action?
- Where was the animal "stolen" from?
- Were the police contacted?
- What is the name of the police agency/officer overseeing the case?
- What is the case number?
- Contact phone number in case of sighting?
You get the idea, right? This will help private individuals substantiate the claim, and if it were a legitimate claim, I can't imagine someone would have a problem with people knowing these details if it will help them bring home their so-called "beloved pet" or "family pet" or whatever other claims these people make.