Friday, August 26, 2011

Life Or Something Like It

2.50 am Friday morning and I am wide awake worrying. *Sigh* Sneezing with the start of a cold.
Yesterday was a simply gorgeous day and I had so much to do. Somehow I managed to drive 60 miles just running errands.

Thanks to the rain the land that was brown and dead suffering from severe drought has flourished turning a rich green. It feels so good to look around and see life come to barren land .. but it's too late in the year to provide an adequate food source for livestock and wildlife.

At Harvey's Feed Store I noticed all the new ad's showing massive liquidations of equine farms & ranches. This is really worrying. Massive sell off's of both horses and cattle flood the market at a time when buyers are not to be found. One disaster after another turning life upside down for millions of people. And now Hurricane Irene is heading towards the east coast with the potential to cause unprecedented damage.
Is there no end to this? No hope in sight?

I can't imagine what millions of residents are going through not knowing what their future is going to be. Well, yes I do. I am still suffering the dire consequences from Hurricane Huckins. I have heard that anyone found abandoning animals in the path of Hurricane Irene will face felony charges, but I don't have any verification. One would think that volunteers from the rescue organizations would already be transporting animals out of harms way.

I had to go and buy house plants & potting soil for my boss, but I was so ill I could barely manage to push the cart. A lousy migraine kept throbbing behind my eyes and the accompanying gagging made it impossible for me to even look at anyone or speak very much. I detest being this ill due to stress. It's so counter-productive.

Some months ago I approached Dianne Stallings, Becky Washburn DVM and Harvey's Feed to see if we in the horse industry could establish a not-for-profit "hay bank" to provide hay for owners struggling in the economy. It's awful being left homeless because you can't function on a professional level.
You can see what is going to happen, you know what is going to happen.. yet you can't even help yourself let alone function the way you need to function.
Please God, I need my life back!

Abandoned Horse Rescue Effort Underway
Dianne Stallings

The situation isn't new, just a little more common in today's faltering economy. Some owners of pleasure horses who no longer can afford to feed them or of racehorses past their prime or not producing income turn out their equines on public land.

Sometimes the owners operate under the romantic notion the horse will reunite with a wild herd and roam free and happy. More likely, the equine savvy say, the animals will starve from limited forage or water and fall prey to coyotes or mountain lions.

Even worse, some owners opt not to spend the money to humanely euthanize their animals and shoot them in deserted arroyos, as the fate of 11 horses was reported last year. A longtime resident of the valley recalled years ago seeing hooves sticking up like dead trees from manure and trash piles.

One day a few weeks ago, Jessie Hanson, owner of Broken Heart Stable, found a horse on adjoining Forest Service land literally on its last legs surrounded by coyotes waiting for it to drop.

"It looks to be a 30-year-old horse and tattooed (with an identification difficult to discern), just skin and bones," she said. "Animal abuse is a fourth-degree felony and because it was on Forest Service land, it's a federal crime, too.

"It's the end of the racing season and I received a report that (two weeks ago), someone dumped some horses up near Ski Apache that they no longer want to care for. Apparently, then they don't have to worry about state or federal jurisdiction, which would occur on state trust land or Forest Service land. They think they're doing a good thing turning the horses out with other horses, but if they starve, no one can go in and get them."


To head off more dumping of horses, Hanson received permission to post flyers around the track offering owners another option for unwanted horses that, after an evaluation, she thinks could be rehabilitated and trained for a second life. A bill of sale must be rendered with the horse. Meanwhile, she applied for a license as an equine retirement center, which under the state still is classified as a rescue. This won't be her first effort at a horse rescue. Before moving to Lincoln County, Hanson was affiliated in Washington state with People Helping Horses, a rescue and rehabilitation organization.

"This goes on all over the United States," Hanson said. "Horse traders in California have a semi-tractor trailer load once a week (of unwanted horses) or owners turn them loose in the road. I was in Curry County last weekend and was told by several people horses were being turned loose on the roadways there, too."

Lincoln County's history is tightly bound to agriculture and livestock, and part of that industry is to be a responsible horse owner, she said.

"Even though the problem is nationwide, I feel that the residents of Lincoln County should bear some responsibility," Hanson said. "After all, we are entertained by the racetrack, we tend our ranches with horses, tourists pay to trail ride in our beautiful mountains, and many of us live here so we can enjoy our horses 24/7."

The cost

Robert "Bobby" D. Pierce, deputy director of the New Mexico Livestock Board in Albuquerque, said Wednesday that the problem is getting worse because of the prolonged drought that drove up the cost of feed.

"That's always been an issue with these animals who need care," he said. "It's a large expense to euthanize them, so turning them out where the owners think they will be safe is a problem and a growing one. We don't have any numbers on it, but I do believe they are doing it more on reservation and forest land."

Pierce said he's heard from other rescue groups that their donations are down.

"It's a costly venture," he said of Hanson's effort. " Her heart is in the right place but she's taking on a huge job."

As for the prospects of domesticated horses surviving in the wild after becoming accustomed to regular supplies of feed and water, Pierce said some wouldn't be able to adjust. Many already are sick or lame when released and the solution is not just to turn them out.

President Mark Chino of the Mescalero Apache Tribe could not be reached for comment about the impact on tribal land, however, George Douds with the Smokey Bear Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest said the Service isn't seeing a big problem with horses released on federal land.

"It's something we are aware of and could increase as the economy turns down," he said. "But in the three years I've been here, we haven't noticed a big increase."

Water would be a problem for any abandoned horses because the dirt tanks set up for wildlife won't hold water long and they would be competing with more savvy native wildlife for the resource, Douds said.


But most owners will take their animals to sale, where they can yield a price per pound, he said. That option opens a whole new and separate debate about the process of slaughtering horses that often are in good condition.

Of those who release their animals, Douds said, "It might be a pleasure horse and they no longer want to feed it, so they let it loose and hope to get it back at some point. If it becomes a problem, the livestock board has jurisdiction over estrays and once they gathered the horse, it should be tattooed and there should be some information on the current or previous owner."

If the horse was found on Forest Service land, the owner would be notified, but no action most likely would be taken, Douds said. "We'd ask him to keep the horse off our land, unless it becomes a habitual problem."

The next offense would result in a letter being sent to the owner and if he still was unresponsive, the owner would be ticketed for livestock trespass and end up in front of a federal judge, Douds said. He added that some livestock is authorized to graze on forestland.

Isolated incidents

Don Hatfield, a Livestock Board public information officer and livestock inspector for the county, said only a few horse owners are offenders and he doesn't want to condemn an industry like racing for those few. He also noted that just because a horse goes to the sale barn doesn't mean it is headed to slaughter.

"Of the ones I've done, none went to slaughter," he said. "They were bought for horses for someone's grandchildren."

He emphasized that inspectors are not the equivalent of dogcatchers. "We're state law enforcement," he said, "who check on brands and ownership and the health of animals and their living conditions."

Sam Wilson, Livestock Board area supervisor and public information officer, said the situation is nothing new for Lincoln County or New Mexico, it's nationwide.

"They put a ban on funding for horse slaughter and there is no place to go with an old horse anymore," he said. "In the past, they were euthanized and sent to Europe, where horse meat is a source of protein and still is eaten.

"When we come across an estray, we follow state statutes on how we deal with it. If we can't identify the owner, it is processed like a cow. We can't give the horse away. It goes to sale, not necessarily auction. It can be sold as long as there are bidders. If the owner lost the horse accidentally, they can at least recoup the proceeds from the sale."


Hanson said she's trying to provide an alternative and is looking for more people to join the effort.

"I received a call from a trainer with a horse that has chips in his knee so he must retire from racing, but after rest and rehabilitation and possible surgery to remove the chips, he could be retained as serviceable as a hunter jumper or a children's horse," she said. "I'm trying to find people to foster until the horse can be evaluated. I can only take one or two.

"I'm trying to be proactive. This is not a straight rescue, it's a retraining, an offer for rehabilitation and a second career. Some of the horses may be horribly injured, but were given nerve blocks. Now they are crippled and may be better off euthanized."

The poster child for the challenge is "Encontrado," Spanish for "found," the horse saved from hungry coyotes and brought to safe retirement by Hanson. About 30 years old, he was turned loose on the Forest Service land to fend for himself, with no water source or forage, Hanson said.

After reporting the find to the Livestock Board, Hatfield came out to look at the animal and Hanson said he told her because the horse was in such an emaciated condition, a Body Score Condition of a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, that if the owner was found he or she would be facing a fourth-degree felony, and because the horse was "dumped" on federal land, they would also be facing federal charges.

"Needless to say, no on stepped forward," she said.

Any horse owner looking for help in finding a safe retirement for a horse, can contact Hanson. "They will be nurtured, re-trained for a second career such as dressage, hunter/jumper or trail riding, or retired," she said.

For more information, contact Broken Heart Stable at 575-354-0006.

Someone related to Robert & Sylve Huckins must have some means to reach them, if it be Michael Huckins, Dr.Kenneth Ogilvie ( Diana Huckins? Dominic Huckins? Malcolm Huckins? ) or Patricia Ogilvie-Huckins. I, like those victims who came before me, have been dragged through a living hell and I simply beg for your mercy. I can't obtain a home until Robert Huckins returns the money he stole from us that was to buy a home. Had he given the money back when he promised the white collar crime investigators I wouldn't be making this plea today. Had he never stolen any money I wouldn't be making this plea today. But he pushes the abuse and torment to an extent where no alternatives are offered. I am homeless and I want to see my mum and return to my career, so I won't stop asking if I have to ask every single day until I die. Robert Huckins gave no-one an alternative, so I plead with sincerity for your mercy.
Today Robert Huckins has his own home...
He also has OUR home.....
He also has a lot of people's money...
And his freedom.

I have NOTHING but the continual cruelty and torment of being homeless.

Injustice never rules forever. ~Seneca