Friday, March 2, 2012

Land of the Free.... to abuse horses?

This case was not a borderline abuse case.  Animal Control had been present and seeking the cooperation of this breeder for 6 MONTHS.  Because of the sheer overwhelming number of horses, she was given every chance to get her shit together.  The situation progressed from informal check-ins, to a 30 day contract with Animal Control that outlines specifications of care to be met.  15 days into that contract, inspections revealed basic provisions had not been acquired in sufficient quantity, specifically adequate amounts of suitable hay and access to clean water.  Water tubs were filled with filth and slime, holding only inches of algae colored water for herds of 30+ horses.  Yet the hose and hydrant were right there.  I personally lifted the handle....  it worked.  How hard is it to cooperate with filling a bucket? 

7 horses were emaciated to the point of being destroyed on scene.  36 more were deemed critical.  And all 133 present were removed in April 2011. 
Does Ms. Parkinson, who allowed her horses to deteriorate to the above condition, deserve to have her hand patted and be given half of her horses back, continuing to be responsible for their lives?  She walked out her door EVERY SINGLE DAY and saw the horses pictured above.  And she did nothing.  She and her supporters justify this picture as excusable "because these horses were old."  No excuse in the world can justify that body condition.  I don't care if they are old, have cancer, debilitating disease, no teeth, or they have been possessed by the devil or whatever other absurd excuse she wants to offer...   you either provide them with proper care, or you euthanize them.  PERIOD. 

Our Noel is old, too.  She's 36+, and she has NO MOLARS.  She looks like this:
That is what an old horse should look like.  Despite having no molars and some liver and kidney damage from her advanced age, we are able to maintain her condition quite easily.  And if we could not, she would be euthanized.  It doesn't matter how much we love her.  It would be our final kindness.

And I don't want to hear the whole "Oh well she's a draft and they stay fat and {{insert multiple lame excuses for your failure to be a decent human being here}}...." because Noel arrived QUITE neglected.  And she's not an easy keeper.  And look how fast some complicated care like AGE APPROPRIATE FOOD brought her around!
I only add this because, as hard as it is to fathom, there is actually a community of horse enthusiasts who SUPPORT Ms. Parkinson, and despite all photographic and video evidence to the contrary believe she did nothing wrong.  In fact, in their minds she is an innocent and wonderful woman who was framed by all the big bad rescues out there who wanted to "steal" her precious horses...   

I can't roll my eyes hard enough.

But I digress. 

10 of Ms. Parkinson's 133 neglected horses arrived into our care for the duration of her trial.  While here they were vetted, had dietary plans individually created, had intestinal parasite infestations treated, had their dental needs addressed, and had their hoof neglect corrected.  They also were gentled, halter broke, learned to tie, stand for the farrier and vet, and learned to blanket and trailer load.  Our cost?  Just over $38,000 in less than 10 months.  You- our donors- paid that bill with your kindness and generosity. 
So imagine our heart-wrenching dismay when Queen Annes County States Attorney Lance Richardson decided to sign a laughably lenient plea deal of 10 misdemeanor neglect charges, complete with the return of 63 horses.  It's an outrage.

So why do jurisdictions seem to do this, again and again?  That's a complex problem, and its the heart of why I wanted to write this thread.  Gentle Giants isn't the only rescue that is dealing with the heart break of investing time, money, energy, and painfully limited resources to help rehab neglected horses only to have them returned to the perpetrator.  And its not just happening in Maryland.  It's a rampant problem.

Our friends at Hope for Horses recently had this horse deemed "fine" with its owners by Animal Control.   How is that FINE under any circumstance??? 
I don't care what the age, breed, health issue, or any other EXCUSE is...  that is not "FINE".

So why does it happen?  Well, follow the money.  As much as no one likes to admit it, the world runs on money, not good intentions. 

Basically, Queen Annes County had to look at how long this trial would last.  Trials like this can drag on for years and years of appeals.  Who pays to feed these horses during this time?  A burden of one or two, or even three horses isn't that much of a long term strain on a rescue, but what about when you are dealing with a herd of 133?   133 neglected horses overwhelmed the entirety of the resources available by the MD horse rescue community so severely that HSUS had to come in and offer support.  But how long could the support go on?  What would Queen Annes County do when rescues started saying "Hey Queen Annes County, we can't bear this financial burden anymore.  We have to give your horses back".  The tax payers of Queen Annes County don't want to pay for caring for Ms. Parkinsons horses.  And she can't pay for them, or they would have never been in this condition to begin with!

So who pays?  The horses pay.

She pays.
     He Pays.
She Pays.

But I don't see Ms. Parkinson paying.