Need advice. Horse left on private property, owner is unreachable, what can be done?
This is in Utah, and we can't find specific applicable laws or policies that pertain to private parties rather than boarding stables, so could use some advice from the horse public at large.
My mother and stepfather agreed last summer to house several horses for a friend who was going through a divorce and needed to remove them from his own property. He did supply his own feed, but my stepfather has been the primary caregiver for the horses since they've been on the property. The friend and his horses stayed with my parents for a short while, but then friend moved out of state and left his horses in my parents yard for months, ignoring their inquiries about having the horses shipped to him. Finally, after months of flakey excuses and "I'll come get them soon," the friend finally drove down and removed all the horses except for one from the yard this spring.
The horse that was left behind, according to him, is his daughter's horse, and he suddenly now refused to take responsibility for him and take him with the others(even though the horse was on his property before the divorce, and he had no problems moving him in then, and never before indicated that the anyone else would be responsible for this one). Instead, he told my parents that his daughter would have to arrange to have her own horse moved off their property, and that was the last time anybody heard from or saw him. He has not answered a single phone call or text message since moving his horses out several months ago.
Meanwhile, my parents have repeatedly reached out to his daughter about picking up the remaining horse. She has ignored most contact attempts, and when she does answer, it is obvious that she has nowhere to keep the horse herself and has made no efforts at all to make other arrangements.
It has now been almost a full year since the horses first arrived at their house. The friend has always kept hay here to feed the horse(s), but has otherwise never contributed to their care or made any effort to compensate for the space, time, or water that his (or his daughter's) horses have needed for the past 11 months.
My parents have long since sold their own horses because they are ready to retire from the responsibility of livestock care and maintenance. Housing these horses (for free) was meant to be a very temporary favor for a friend in need, and now they feel they are just being taken advantage of.
They don't want to be malicious or confrontational, but are fast approaching the point of exhaustion with asking nicely and getting no response. Does anyone know what steps they can take and what rights they may have in regards to getting this horse off of their property?