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Horse rescue could have been handled better

September 08, 2007|By KATHY F. MICHAEL

To the editor:

On Aug. 22 there was article on the front page of the paper concerning the horses that were removed from Ms. Reinken's Sharpsburg farm in December. The article seemed to raise more questions than it answered.

From the article, it appears that the Humane Society doesn't know what is going on with the horses. The article states that 75 horses were removed, then goes on to say, "A few died, but about a dozen mares gave birth to foals, giving rescuers and animal authorities close to 85 horses to worry about." Do they know how many horses died (or were euthanized), how many mares had foals and how many horses currently need homes? How many is a few? How many is about a dozen and how many is close to 85?

If the Humane Society "intervened and visited" Reinken's farm since 1996, how did it happen that 75 horses ended up so malnourished, injured and worm-infested that they had to be removed from her care?

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In the article quoting Humane Society President Paul Miller, it says, "He figured the cost of boarding a horse with a barn and stall, at about $300 per month." He is correct about the cost of boarding a horse, but it doesn't cost $300 per month to maintain a horse. What relevance does the cost of boarding a horse have to the rescued animals? Is the Humane Society paying $300 per month, per horse, to have them boarded?

The article states, "Officials said the horses fared better when they moved." Are they referring to when they were moved from Ms. Reinken's farm? If so, I would hope they did; I can't imagine how they could have fared worse.

What point is Miller trying to make when he goes on to say, "In groups, there's a pecking order" among horses? As horses come and go, the hierarchy changes. Horses that are removed from the farm group and get individual care are "not always looking over their shoulder, so they relax."

The groups he is referring to are known as herds and horses are highly social herd animals that prefer to live in a group. Horses do not need to be removed from a farm group to relax. Horses in a properly managed herd, in which all of the horses are receiving care, are very comfortable and secure. If a herd is well-managed and horses are added to it in a knowledgeable, responsible way, the dynamics of the herd will change - but it shouldn't cause any major problems.

The questions I have for the Humane Society are very simple and straightforward. I would like for the Human Society to answer them the same way.

With Humane Society intervention and visitation since 1996, how did the horses in Reiken's care end up in such horrible physical and emotional condition?

· Is the Humane Society considering euthanizing some of these horses?

· How many horses were removed?

· How many horses died or were euthanized due to illness or injury?

· How many mares had foals?

· How many horses have been adopted?

· How many horses are currently at Days End Farm Horse Rescue and Pheasant Hill Equine Foundation?

· How many horses are at other locations?

· Does the Humane Society still assume financial responsibility for the horses that are currently at Days End and Pheasant Hill?

· How many horses does the Humane Society currently provide financial assistance for?

· How much does the Humane Society pay per month, per horse, for their care?

· What is the Humane Society's role in getting the horses adopted?

· Why is there no mention of the horses on their Web site?

· Why is the adoption fee for these horses $500? Wouldn't it be better to reduce the adoption fee and find them good homes than to continue caring for them, hoping to get at least $500 each?

The Humane Society received worldwide, positive publicity from the rescue of these horses. People opened their hearts and their wallets to help. It is appalling that the Humane Society's follow-through with these animals has been so questionable.

Kathy F. Michael

Sharpsburg

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