Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ATTENTION HORSE RESCUERS & Horse Rescue Wannabes near Minnehaha County, South Dakota: if we want law enforcement to be able to even consider Rescue instead of Salebarn/Feedlot for seized and/or neglected horses, we need to have always-available rescue facilities, and that's just the way it is. It's up to us. It shouldn't be, but it is. We need to respect the procedure in our County; and if we want some of these horses to have even a chance to go to a rescue facility, it is up to us to have that rescue facility available for consideration.

Yesterday two of our DoubleHP directors participated in the 2nd Sioux Falls Area Horse Welfare group discussion. We joined representatives from the Sioux Falls Aea Humane Society, Minnehaha County State's Attorney's and Sheriff's offices, Dakota Large Animal Clinic, and South Dakota Animal Industry Board/State Veterinarian's Office.

Much of the discussion was about procedure for responding to reports of possible horse neglect in Minnehaha County.
In a way, we are fortunate because there are a couple of different ways these reports can be handled. Either on a County level or through the South Dakota Animal Industry Board.
In Minnehaha County, for example, the Minnehaha County Animal Control Ordinance gives authority to an Animal Control Officer to handle these reports. To seize and impound horses, and to dispose of them in any humane means. (of course there is a lot of other stuff that can happen during the case, but ACOs in our county DO have a lot of authority where horses are concerned.)

However, during our discussion yesterday, we learned that Minnehaha County feels that the South Dakota Animal Industry Board can handle these reports of possible horse neglect much better than the County can. (INTERPRETATION: the County does not want to deal with it, so they hand it over to the State Vet's office)

At this time, without a County horse shelter, without permanent, constant & consistent horse rescue resources available in our County or available to us, starving horses will get no help around here. They will continue to starve, or they will be sent to loose horse sale or slaughter feedlot.

Attention Horse Rescuers and Horse Rescue Wannabes: the ball is part-way in our court, so to speak.
Unless we are Animal Control Officers, we do not have any legal authority where the horses are concerned. But if we truly want to help these horses, we need to join together and find a way to have always-available places to shelter seized/impounded horses, we need to be able to make good on our offer to help, and we need to be able to accept responsibility for these horses if a transfer of ownership becomes available.

Without consistent rescue resources available, law enforcement needs some other place to go with these horses. And the easiest, least expensive thing for them to do, is to take the horses to a livestock salebarn or feedlot. The horses do not necessarily get veterinary attention in those cases. The goal is to sell them fast. Or feed them to gain weight and then sell them. And yes, many, probably most, of these horses will go to slaughter.

So, those of you who would like to prevent some of these neglected and/or seized horses from entering the "slaughter pipeline," you need to let us know that you want to help. It doesn't really matter what county you are in, though if you are near Minnehaha County it would make things easier in emergencies. But even if you are farther away, we could transport horses to you later, with proper permission or if they are signed over to a rescue group.

So, bottom line: Rescuers & Rescue Wannabes: Unless we are ready to join together to develop a plan for a Community horse shelter with corporate sponsorships and grants and on and on. Or at the very least (this would still be good), come up with a network of experienced horse owner type foster homes, who will leave their facilities open for emergency cases of starvation and neglect. To be always-available horse shelters, so that law enforcement has somewhere GOOD to go with these horses. Instead of sticking them in the "slaughter pipeline."

The ball's part way in our court, so to speak. Let us know if you want to get involved in a real horse rescue network in our area. It will only be for cases where law enforcement is involved. At least there is a chance then that the cycle would end. Not saying it's a guarantee. but there is a chance, if law enforcement is involved.

We are interested in looking at the big picture. We are interested in truly being able to help the people who have the authority to get the horses out of a bad situation. But we have to be able to offer them the good situation then.

It's up to us. It shouldn't be, but it is. That's just the way it is.
Do you want to help?

Call us 605 359-0961 or email

Friday, September 9, 2011