Michigan help?

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Oct 8, 2003
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I have a family member in Clayton, MI. Ringo is a wonderful black mini that spent most of his years in a petting zoo and then wintered @ family members home. They bought him outright 2 years ago.

In late April I made a trip from OH to MI. I was sickened by what I saw. Ringo was unable to stand for more than a minute or 2 because his hooves were ~10-12" long and stunk to high heavens from thrush. You see, they only clean his stall every 2 weeks or so so his bedding is his own waste. They were feeding him 2 large grain scoops of sweet feed/day and since the family member's husband thought hay was too expensive they feed him a few alfalfa cubes a day also.

I begged her to let me pay for vet visit with the intention of getting a farrier out to do any corrective work. She refused. I took 30-35 bales of mixed hay up in mid-May and also called a neighbor who owns horses to get a farrier referral. He does his own trimming and tried to trim the mini but he's broken or dislocated his shoulder/arm a couple months ago AND he is not a professional farrier.

I filed a report with the county humane society and they sent the sheriff out that day. They saw a fat little horse and didn't feel it was neglect. Ringo has not had any vaccinations nor has he been wormed in at least 2 years. Please, I need help. Is there anything I can do to make sure this mini receives proper care?? Thanks so much, Kristie
Kristie I don't want to hurt anyones feelings here but the police are right if they see food and water there is nothing they can do. I know it is hard to see an animal suffer but (I know you ment well) but taking them hay was the worst thing you could of done. At this time see if the humane society can educate them about hoof care etc. but I really don't think there is anything they can do either if there is food and water provided.

I'm Sorry!
Smokengunsranch is correct.

In the majority of cases, either the horses have to be starving, or dead in order to get anything done. It is really really sad, and it is extremely difficult to let that happen.

And if the horse has any food or water on the property, even if they can't actually get to it, then often nothing can be done.

It just breaks your heart.

But, contacting the humane society and any local equine rescues in MI, they may help to put pressure on the owners.

Here is a quote taken from www.equinerescue.com:

1. Approach the owner.If the horse's owner is at all approachable, speak with them first. Rule out any possibility that the animal is actually at a facility where it is on the road to recovery from someone else's misconduct. It can also be possible that the owner isn't aware of the proper care a horse needs. This can especially be true with new owners of hard-to-keep animals or those in special circumstances, such as pregnant mares. Diana Linkous of the Equine Rescue Network, inc. urges, "If the owner is known, or appears to be hostile, skip this step."

2. Collect evidence.

The key to establishing credibility when filing a complaint is to document what you witness on film. It will be a lot easier to rally the support of your local legal officials with documented proof. Diana recommends,

"If possible, take photos or video from a public area adjacent to the property -- whether public road or sympathetic neighbor's property. Be sure to photograph all possible angles of horses and property, showing whether there is feed available, water (if available, is it clean?), condition of fences, any junk in the area where horses are kept, etc. Be sure to get pictures of horse's feet, and evident scars or open sores, views showing body condition, and so forth. If you are video taping, narrate as you go. If using a still camera, immediately after taking pictures, get into your vehicle and write down all of your impressions."

It is important to note that in some jurisdictions, photos taken while on the owner's property may be inadmissible as evidence, should the case progress to prosecution. Trespassing charges can offer another roadblock; always get permission to enter anyone's property ahead of time. Diana goes on to recommend, "If you are confronted by an armed owner, leave, even if you are on public ground."

Further evidence can be compiled by way of expert witness. You may want to take a trusted equine vet, farrier or other equine professionals out to see the horse and document his or her findings for submission to authorities. Diana offers an interesting side note, "Sometimes these people will not want to get involved, either because they fear loss of business, or because the abuser is in a position of power... cousin to the sheriff, brother to a state senator, whatever." So choose your experts wisely.

3. Contact the Humane Society

If you cannot get any help for the animal from the owners themselves, it's time to get in touch with your local Humane Society. Chris Smith of the Equine Rescue League in Leesburg, Virginia continues this thought,

"Most counties have an Animal Control department, or at least a designated AC Officer (may be called Animal Warden in some jurisdictions.) If you can't find a number for an AC department, check with your county sheriff's office. More often than not, the AC officer falls under his management."

If there are no Humane Society or Animal Control Officers for your county, contacting your sheriff's office remains the next logical step. The sheriff's deputies themselves may have the jurisdiction over animal cruelty. Diana also mentions that it is wise to be prepared for animal control officers that know nothing about horses. "Be willing to teach them…"if they are receptive. Otherwise, this is where the testimony of your expert witness will come in handy.

Deb Tolentino of D-D Farm- Animal Sanctuary and Rescue in Columbia, Missouri points out that humane societies, animal control officers and the sheriff's department all have the authority to seize the animal if necessary. "Do not ever go in and just take the animals [yourself] without permission as this is a felony and you may be prosecuted."

4. Get the press involved.

Hopefully the horse's ill fate will be remedied before you reach this point. But if the previous steps don't result in better conditions for the horse, getting the local citizenry aware of the abuse will often press officials to act. Neighborhood interest stories are often a hot topic for local news broadcasts and newspapers. Diana also suggests, "At this point, you want to build up local anger at the situation, so find 4-H clubs, Pony Clubs, and so forth to get a bunch of people behind you in a letter writing campaign." Be careful to involve the public as a last-ditch effort. Doing otherwise could brand you as an agitator and render your efforts to save the animals less effective.

To quote Chris, "The bottom line is this: You are the abused horse's first line of communication with someone who can help. Don't let him down."
Also on this site, you can search for rescues that are located in MI. Get them involved in it as they KNOW the laws for that state.

Please keep us posted!
Thanks so much for your responses.

SunQuest: I have done #1 & 3. Seems mini was fat so feet & living conditions were not of importance

I have eyewitnesses but no documentation such as pictures because the family member is my sister and I tried all avenues before turning to the Humane Society.

Since then they have aquired a goat, another hooved animal that will require care and vaccinations. I don't understand this as they are zoned residential.

I love my sister very much and have always been very close to her. I have spent hours & hours talking with her, her husband & my 2 nieces and showing them basic horse care. I knew in May when we brought up the hay that it was a mistake but, at that moment, still hoping that some of her animal keeping would change for the better, I was thinking about Ringo and his suffering. I also tried but couldn't get a vet out without the owner's permission and the neighbor informed me that there was no farrier that would come out for just one horse - especially a mini.

Since May a couple other pets have died and since one of those that suffered was one that I had given them to love the guilt took and I finally had to do something. Seems like I am too late.
(((HUGS))) Fourhorses,

I know you feel a great deal of responsibility for this because one of them was yours at one time. But don't blame yourself. You didn't do it, and if you had known that this is the way the animal would be treated, then you wouldn't have given the animal to your sister.

I don't know the relationship between your sister and you, but I would see if she would give the animal back to you. And even though you love your sister, you still can tell her what she is doing is wrong!

Please go to the site I listed www.equinerescue.com/staterescues.html and contact the rescues that are listed for MI. If anyone can help, they could.

And just because they are zoned residential doesn't mean that she can't have the animals. You will need to check out the specific covenants and regulations relating to the area she lives in. This is probably public record info.

Then if the zoning or covenants prohibit livestock or horses, you may be able to report then to the county authorities that covers zoning and covenants.

Please keep trying, and keep us posted. While we can't do forcible rescue, we can help with ideas and people that may be able to help in this area. (hugs)
SunQuest said:
I don't know the relationship between your sister and you, but I would see if she would give the animal back to you. And even though you love your sister, you still can tell her what she is doing is wrong!
That animal died. Suffered for hours before she finally passed on.

About 5 years ago I was going to retire one of my horses to her home (2 acres). He was quite the schoolmaster & I thought having 2 little girls to love him would be the best retirement present ever. I spent 2 days collecting cards for farriers, vets & references from a local tack shop and came home to make some calls, ask questions, references, etc. During that time, discussing arrangements, care, etc. I realized there was no way I could take my horse up there and I told her why. This decision miffed my sister and she didn't speak to me for a week or so, we eventally talked about it and that was it. (Calgary is still with me today, just turned 23 and will be with my husband & I for the rest of his life.)

When my sister wintered Ringo for 3 winters before she bought him I told her what a great situation that was......she kept him for the winter and he went back to the petting zoo in the spring. With just wintering him I told her her expenses would really be at a minimum with a little slower hoof growth, no worry about grass founder (seems he has a long history of that), a tube of wormer would last her almost a year and advised her to check with a vet as I didn't know if mini's were vaccinated the same as their larger cousins but maybe a flu/rhino shot might be a good booster in the winter - this being what I do.

My sister has listened to the ups & downs of me being owned by my horses for over 9 years. My love of animals and especially horses has been always been part of what defines me. This situation forced me to choose. When I filed the report with the humane society I knew what it meant in my relationship with her and other members of my family. Up until I filed the report we usually talked several times a week and I always asked about Ringo and Zena (housebunny that died a slow death and reminded me that I had to do something) and tried to educate her in little ways. They feel that since Ringo isn't near other horses on a regular basis that he doesn't need vaccinated and if he can walk or even try to run on his feet then there is no need to call a vet, he either pulls thru or he doesn't.

I hope to have some news in the next couple business days and see where I go from there. Thank you for letting me vent. Trying to get sheriff to understand thrush & founder has been quite depressing.
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I can't believe common sense doesn't tell them something is very wrong.

Would they consider selling the horse? Maybe you could tell her you heard of someone who is interested in that type of mini. Rather you explained it by his color or sex or whatever, just make something up. For example, I know someone who is looking for a solid black stallion. But use what ever it is he is.

I would be interested in helping if I can.
Dear Fourhorses

My prayers and best wishes are with you and poor Ringo. Do you think your sister might sell him to you. Possibly we could help there. Or just maybe you could find and pay a Farrier to help him out. Some Farriers do care and are willing to help. They just have to know about it.

Good luck and Please keep us posted.

I've tried to buy him. I have my own farm and have always been willing to take him but they won't sell. It's very twisted as they have no reason to keep him. I begged her to let me take him home in May. They were going to give pony rides on him with his fairy slippers.

They have now bought a GOAT to keep him company. Another hooved animal at her mercy. They bought the goat as an "hah, in your face" to me since the sheriff didn't remove the mini. They know nothing about horses let alone goats. It's going to be a long day.

That you are taking the time to read my posts and help means alot. Thanks so much, Kristie
I have an idea.

What if I got in touch with her, told her I had a family member who lives in Michigan, had saw the horse at a petting zoo, told me about it and now I am interested in buying it? What do you think? It could be a more detailed story if need be. Does she have email? Might be worth a shot.

Hugs to you for your offer. It is much appreciated and I may take you up on that.

Right now I am working on the zoning issue. She is zoned residential and has farm animals. Hopefully that will be the loophole. If not, then I am going to call a rescue in that area.....Horses Haven. I will keep you updated.

Thank you for that offer. It may be an option.

And FourHorses, don't feel bad about calling a rescue into this situation. If the horse's feet and living conditions are that bad, then they should know. I only wish that we had state coordinators and other volunteers in that area so that we could try to help out more....

Please keep us posted, and if you have pictures of the horse's condition for CMHR to see, that would help tremendously...

You can contact me at:

[email protected] or pm me if you require further assistance.
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I am getting Zero response from the county & township regarding anything, from report to zoning, etc.

I am going to call Horses Haven equine rescue. I'll will keep this post updated.
I am wondering how much a resue can do. In our county they can really do nothing until there is interference from the authorities. Then they get in touch with the rescue. They have no legal grounds, and the law says there is no problem.... Is it to help educate those with the horse?

Maybe my email and letting them know I am interested, maybe would work. Give me a low down on the horse history, and maybe a town near them I can use, where my "Uncle" would live, and we could give it a try.

Oh, I forgot to mention I was opening my own petting zoo

We will never know until we try. It cost no one anything for me to email, just a little time, and that's no big deal. The worst she can do is tell me no. Then we go to the next plan, what ever that may be.

It's just an offer.
Frankie (Carolyn),

I will be calling you before the end of the weekend. I need to love on my own horses today AFTER I make another call to the humane society.

My sister does not have an e-mail. However, the couple that lived in their home before them lived there for over 30 years so maybe we can use that in our favor as in driving by and saying hi and finding out that they moved??? Sneaky I know but I will not be welcome there to just drive up, whip out a camera & leave.

You are right about rescue - they cannot seize the animal.

Educating my sister seems a mute point as she has had weekly/monthly education for nine years - the time we've owned our farm.

Since I really screwed up by not taking pictures the closest you can see what Ringo looks like is here... www.harpsonline.org/rescues/shaggy.phtml

Ringo is not quite that FAT but his hooves were longer.

I'll keep in touch. Thank you for your support, Kristie
What about writing a letter? If his feet are that bad, something needs to be done soon! You could send her address by PM so not all see. Not sure what else to do at this point. Does she have email at work?
PM sent. A long one. Feel free to share with the board as I wanted you to read first. Thanks so much, Kristie

It has been a very long & emotional day but I did want to give an update on Ringo. Since I couldn't get anywhere with the County I spent hours a day trying other avenues. I have succeeded in getting the State of Michigan Dept. of Agriculture involved. Thanks to the phrase "manure management" "no vaccinations" "no, he never had a coggins pulled when he was bought" "founder", etc. has gotten an immediate response from the Michigan Department of Agriculture. The report will be available to me a week from Friday. The gal was very helpful, took report right then, had me call the state Animal Control officer and I had no sooner hung up with them that MDA called for the address and told me that a State Vet and MDA Compliance Officer would be down to the address within a day or 2. She also told me the consequences. Ringo's humans are in big trouble. I am glad that they will have to take responsibility but my dad paid me a visit this afternoon to let me know that my sister will never forgive me and that I will most likely never see my nieces for years to come.
I am so sad about this but Ringo will be safe. Instead of hating me for the rest of their lives I hope that they will all understand that animals are not a novelty, this was not about family, it was about an animal clearly suffering.
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Hugs fourhorses....

This is definately not a good deal for you. I am so sorry that you will loose seeing your family over this. It really makes me sad that you were stuck in this spot to have to choose animals over family.

But I want you to know that you are saving those that can not help themselves. As hard as this is on you, you are doing the right thing. I can only hope that the others in your family will understand and all do what is right and support your decision.

When you get this all worked out, please consider joining CMHR. We can you people that are as resourceful as you are to help educate others on what they can do to stop abuse in their neighborhoods.

You did the right thing. You can sleep at night with a clear conscience. I know it was hard for you to do,
I too would love to see you become a member of CMHR. Plese consider it.

Plesae keep us updated. And best of luck with you and your sister.


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