Saturday, May 29, 2010


Who says old cowboys aren't useful...

Friday, May 28, 2010

How to Make an Effective Abuse/Neglect Report

British Heavy Coloured Cob

More from the greatness that is Grainne Dhu!

How to Make an Effective Abuse/Neglect Report
by Grainne Dhu

Okay, you've seen a situation that you feel is clearly abusive or
neglectful, you've identified the person responsible as clearly as you
can and you've identified the correct agency to make a complaint to.

The content of your complaint can have a significant effect on how
seriously it is taken. Many years ago, I was involved in two different
puppy mill seizure cases and I learned a lot about effective testimony
from watching the prosecutor. An effective complaint can make the
difference between changing the situation for the animal and being

First of all, it's important to clearly differentiate between what you
actually saw for yourself and what you conjecture may have happened
out of your sight. If you see someone shanking a horse as they walk
behind the barn, hear some sort of commotion from that direction and
then see that person leading the horse back lathered up and flinching
away from the handler's hand, you can describe all that. You cannot
describe how they beat the horse with a whip because that's
conjectural, you didn't see it. You can, however, say "I didn't see
what happened while the horse was out of my sight behind the barn but
the sounds I heard and the horse's condition afterward made me think
that the horse had been beaten while out of my sight."

Quantify, quantify, quantify! Note your own position as you witnessed
the event(s), where the event occurred, how far away it was, the date,
the time of day, whether that time is an approximation or whether you
looked at a clock to ascertain it, the ambient conditions
(temperature, humidity, precipitation, etc), how many people you saw,
whether you knew those people from previous acquaintance, feel you
could identify them again, etc. Describe what the person was wearing
as clearly as you can.

If you see someone striking an animal, don't just say "she was beating
on that dog." Describe how the person was striking the dog (open hand?
closed fist? object?) and a count or estimate of how many blows were
involved. Describe the dog's reaction to the beating, whether the dog
was cringing, yelping, trying to escape, etc. Describe the force the
blows by including the clues that let you know how heavy they were;
for instance, a kick that landed hard enough to move both the dog's
hind feet, a punch that landed hard enough on the dog's head to knock
the dog's front end to the ground, etc.

British Heavy Coloured Cob

In neglect cases, it's much better to describe than to diagnose. For
example, a report that says "the horse's ribs are prominent, the
horse has lost the fat pads along the top of the spine on the back, I
could see the individual spinal processes, the tailhead lacked fat and
was clearly visible above the hindquarters and the horse's neck has a
significant dip along the top side due to loss of normal fat deposits"
is far more effective than saying "the horse has a body condition
score of 2 to 2.5."

If you are reporting neglect, it's often a matter of showing a pattern
of neglect because otherwise the neglectful person could claim "I just
bought the horse in this condition." Keep a log and write down
everything relevant. Keep in mind the principle that if you don't
write it down, it didn't happen. Show or share your log with other
people to help bolster your case; if you keep a computer log, it's
easy to email the entries to one or two trusted friends.

If your contacts with the abusive/neglectful owner leads you to
believe they are not normal, be sure to describe as clearly as
possible what they say or do that leads you to that conclusion. Avoid
assigning a motive or diagnosis like "she acts like she is a hoarder"
or "she clearly doesn't care." Describe how the person laughs
inappropriately, makes statements that are irrelevant to your stated
concerns or has an unusually intense reaction.

An effective report comes down to painting a picture in words so that
the person reading your report feels they were there. The more details
you can include, the more effectively you will convey what happened
and the more likely it is that your complaint will be taken seriously.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Agreement

A beautiful appy for Fern
The question for today is: What points do you agree with FHOTD on?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Show us why YOU don't get burned out!

Rick James horse

I though that everyone one might need a good laugh today. This is a quote from today's article, 'Show us why YOU don't get burned out!', from FHOTD:

Someone asked yesterday how you can be involved in rescue and not get burned out by all the negative things you see, and all of the animals you cannot help….I don’t get burned out because I pay attention to the positive outcomes

We all know that Fugs doesn't get burned out because she doesn't do anything. The rescues do the work and Fugs is not involved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Horse Racing

In the struggle for change there are tools at our disposal that have proven effective over the decades. One such tool is voicing a grievance by letter or phone call which is a powerful tool in any arsenal and, for this reason, needs to be part of a well orchestrated campaign. Failure to do so, as we have seen with a recent FHOTD post, will ultimately work against the horse rescue cause. I hold anyone not showing restraint equally responsible for the deaths of horses as the owner who dumped the horse.

To see how to effectively use a grievance campaign and to understand how it can go terribly wrong we first need to understand the circumstances surrounding rescue work. Justsayingfubb was kind enough to get this statement from a race horse owner which describes horse retirement in the racing industry:

From another owner trainer

What we are seeing in the Thoroughbred industry is a higher level of awareness. Over the last ten years or so people have learned that just giving a horse away doesn't guarantee it a good home for life, chances are it will end up in a slaughterhouse. While there will always be people working with horses that just don't care where a horse ends up if they are handed a few hundred bucks, those people are thankfully quickly becoming the minority. Most racetracks have instituted anti-slaughter policies, with Suffolk Downs' being the best so far. Racetracks in many states now deduct money from purses earmarked for TB rescue, and rehabilitation. Philadelphia Park has a barn where horses can be placed if the owners no longer want them. The horses are retired, and re-homed. There is a remarkable number of people going to low end auctions every week to find TB's and save them from killer buyers.

A rescue would have to realize that not all racehorses can be rehabilitated, or re-homed, and be willing, for the good of certain individual horses, to euthanize. Someone very experienced with racehorses should be consulted in those instances. The Thoroughbred industry leads all other breeds in rescue, rehabilitation, and re-homing of ex-racehorses. Most people in racing love their horses, and want to see them live long, happy lives after their racing careers are over.

An anonymous poster described the effects on TB rescue as a result of FHOTD's recent failed attempt at voicing grievances:

…I am very, very angry that Cathy Atkinson's latest temper tantrum has closed off our access to the TB's... we were already crippled by not being able to 'flip lips' and check out the pedigree's. every single time we tried to advertise these beautiful, well bred, horses the past owners, no matter how far back or innocent, were harassed by nasty phone calls...So we stopped posting pedigrees to protect past owners. Now, because of the Frisco thing...all of the phone calls to the past owners and trainers and even the track officials - The FLO has closed off all access to the TB's - Doesn't matter that Cathy Atkinson screwed up, doesn't matter that her follower's didn't know what they were talking about. It doesn't even matter that no one knows what they were trying to accomplish..All that matters to me is that the FLO has decided that we won't be allowed access to the TB's anymore and there's nothing we can do about it..All of the TB's will be shipped to the Slaughterhouse,..period, full stop..They will still be dumped, but no one will see them, no one will be able to help them and not a darned thing has been gained..There must have been a 'point', but I'm just not seeing it...So any explanation by 'wiser' minds would be gratefully appreciated.

To summarize, it is suffice to say that FHOTD effect on horse rescue has been disastrous. She has started a campaign without knowledge of the industry or consideration of consequences. This has resulted in her followers harassing individuals to the extent that they no longer want to work with rescues and Fugly has greatly sabotaged rescue attempts which has cost many horses their lives. It is truly sad to see the energy of her followers working against horse rescue when we could imagine the change for the better that could have been possible if their energies had be properly used. The best advice for those who read FHOTD is to join a rescue group and put your energies there rather than relying on Fugly for direction.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Now, hold it a minute!

Lorie Wigle IS a responsible horse owner

In the article "Dear Racehorse Owners of America" FHOTD outs Lorie Wigle for dumping her horse Fritz at a feedlot. Apparently, Fritz raced Monday and in less than 24 hours ended up in a kill pen. FHOTD refuses to accept Wigle's response when she states," It is the usual “I gave him to someone who was going to retrain him.”  Well, he was in the kill pen less than 24 hours later….  Ship-to-kill date was yesterday, Lorie." So, clearly FHOTD uses the timeline to establish culpability.

Now, just hold it a minute. Perhaps it's best to look at Lorie Wigle's statement. In response to FHOTD, Lorie Wigles says, "The entire thing is completely untrue. Fritz NEVER went to a slaughter facility. We gave him -- completely sound -- to someone who retrains race horses for second careers. The posting is a complete fake. The person we gave Fritz to apparently sold him to a woman who SAID she was going to train him as an English pleasure horse. Unfortunately her intention seems to be some sort of Internet scam.

If you visited my farm you'd find two 26 year-old mares, one of whom has been blind for 10 years and a gelding that I've nursed through a broken leg and two colic surgeries. I treasure my horses.

But a 3 year old would not be happy just being a pasture pony. As i said, Fritz is perfectly sound, he's an attractive horse and a real trier. I wanted him to have a chance to make someone a good riding horse. And I don't have the skills to complete that training. " I don't see anything in this statement that denotes an irresponsible owner, rather, caring for senior horses says a lot to me about accountability.

What is stated in Wigle's response is easy to verify with one trip to the farm or a phone call. Rather than do this, FHOTD has chosen to base her evidence solely on the 24 hour time line. Within 24 hours it is possible to buy a horse and drive it directly to the auction. The 24 hour window proves nothing.

Now, let's compare another time line. Within a five hour window it is possible for Fugs to write and publish an article citing Lorie Wigle for animal abandonment and encouraging an entourage of young people to attack race horse owners, trainers, and track owners. This group of track professionals are essential to the continued rehoming and retraining of ex-race horses. The rescue community relies on the goodwill of this group to continue receiving racehorses. The FHOTD article, if it has any effect, is to damage the relationship on which horses' live hinge. If there is culpability to be assigned for irresponsibility and the death of horses, then it lies firm on the shoulders of FHOTD and her followers.

I would like to thank justsayingfubb for contacting Lorie Wigle and getting her response. Well done, JSF!