They Used To Hang Horse Thieves…

…and many people still wish that they did-along with the abusive folks. Personally, I’m not one of them. I think hanging is a waste of good rope. It doesn’t really solve the problem anyway-it only drives it further underground.

Now whether you agree with me or not, the bald-faced fact remains-people are still, in this day and age, stealing horses, cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, mules, and just about any other kind of livestock you can name. The truth of the matter is-and they don’t like to admit it-law enforcement is waging a losing battle in this. They simply cannot cover so much ground, so many miles, and track down property that MOVES.  What’s worse for them is-this property can be trucked across state lines within 24 hours, slaughtered, and it is just GONE. 

Very, very little or none of these animals are permanently identified in any way. Oh, back in the early 80’s I think it was, there was an initiative by the US Agriculture Department to  microchip all livestock. The conspiracy theorists got their hair up and starting claiming that the ‘guv’mint was going to track our movements from outer space’ and ‘they’d know what we were doing in our homes with our dogs and cats’.  Another pet theory was that ‘next they’d be implanting chips in humans to track them’.

Considering that the Feds cannot seem to keep track of anything of their own-never mind what the population is doing or they would have prevented the OK City bombing, 9/11, and a whole rat of other calamities, I can’t, for the life of me, see why they’d care that I was taking my horse for a trail ride in the state next door. It just boggles my mind. Either I’m just not that important or the conspiracy folks are and I missed the memo.

Anyway-the huge elephant in that ointment was the fact that microchips are just there. They just sit in place and do absolutely NOTHING until somebody comes along with a scanner that has the right software. Then the scanner ‘tickles’ or ‘excites’ the chip which then responds with the encoded number that is unique to that chip. Then it goes back to doing NOTHING. They are incapable of causing cancer (somebody started passing that one around-no, they don’t), they can’t migrate to some place else (the covering encourages the tissues to actually grow INTO it which anchors it in place), nor can they ‘transmit’ to outer space (that requires a power source which they do not have.)

So what was the point of doing it? Well, at the time, we were having the ‘mad cow disease’ scare and the disease specialists thought-rightly-that being able to know where animals were and being able to track them would be a good thing. That way, if they got sick, you’d be able to know where they came from, where they’d been, and all the animals they might have infected. But the Tin Hats got in the way (my term for conspiracy people).

It is now nearly 40 years later-the rest of the civilized world is microchipping and tracking their livestock but the United States stubbornly and stupidly does not. Oh, we will get dragged kicking and screaming, shouting curses the entire way into it. We have to act like toddlers who don’t want to eat their spinach, wind up wearing most of it, then ordering spinach salads as adults.

One of the facts about the microchipping abroad is-where it is being done as a matter of course-theft plummeted. You cannot sell a horse without the ‘passport’ associated with the chip. No vet will treat a horse without scanning it and using the chip number-so they will know immediately who the registered owner should be. You cannot show the horse without being scanned. Breeders use the chips to ensure the identities of sire and dam. Racetracks use the chips to confirm the horses’ prior to and after the races. And Customs require chips to ship out/into a country. It is nearly impossible to steal a horse and get away with it in some areas.

So forget the rope-let’s focus on making it impossible for these people to FUNCTION and MAKE MONEY at our horses’ and our expense. Identify our horses and stop them before they load up.

 

Busy Time of Year-and Not Because of Holidays

boloI used to get into the whole Christmas-holiday thing-decorating, baking, going to see people, buying gifts, and all the whoop-de-do. Then I got older-the money got tighter and tigher, the little kids became big kids, some people actually DIED, and just maybe I got smarter? I don’t know.

But the older I get the less I do and the less I need to do. Oh, I enjoy getting a Christmas card or two-simply because I enjoy hearing from old friends. But truth be told-you can do that any time of year. We just don’t and Christmas gives us a reason to reconnect. That’s fine and I’m not down playing it. I just don’t have the postage money. I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat.

However, there are a few, well, I won’t call them ‘people’ because of what they do, but the word ‘jerk’ will do-who decide that they will ‘make some cash’ by taking advantage of all the distraction caused by the holiday running around to steal other people’s horses, cattle, trucks, trailers, and tack. Then they take this to the sales (with forged bills of sale and other documents) and sell quickly. OR in the case of the trucks and trailers, they might ‘chop’ them and sell for parts or scrap metal for profit. Turnover is generally 3-7 days. It is, essentially, free money-unles you get caught.

That’s where the organization that I volunteer for-Stolen Horse International or ‘NetPosse’-comes in. We try to make it impossible for these jerks to have the opportunity to sell by blanketing the entire area in notifications via social media, regular media, people handing out fliers, putting up notices, calling auctions, notifying dealers, etc.about the theft and what to look for. In essence, we super-saturate the area. In one instance that I know of, the thief told his girlfriend that the ‘internet has just blown up-we can’t move the product anywhere.’ That was the reaction we were looking for. We got those horses back within a week and he and his accomplice were both arrested and charged. We don’t have  the authority to arrest, but we were darn proud of getting the horses back.

If you want to be a part of this fantastic group of volunteers or just want to support the work that we do (it is a 501(c)(3)), click here.

 

 

 

Benefits of Microchipping Your Horse

I will just list them.

  • When properly registered, a microchip is the unique and unalterable link to the owner of the animal. That should be self-explanatory.
  • Health records are easier to track for vets-this is critical for pre-purchase or breeding exams.
  • Health certificates can be linked to the chips for shipping, showing, racing, and/or sales.
  • Registrations of foals at or close to birth, especially coupled with DNA testing, virtually  eliminates doubt of identity of parentage even when born to surrogate mares.
  • Ownership of horses can be easily traced because a ‘passport’ unique to each horse would follow it from birth to the grave.

The downside? So far-quite honestly, I haven’t found one.

Now I will say-for a couple of my horses, it did make their necks sore for a couple of days. BUT-l will also say this-they were also horses that did not put their heads down that much. The ones that did, didn’t have any problems. I think it was the repetitive stretching down to graze and eat that took the soreness out. Just for whatever it’s worth to you.

Questions? Ask me. Or go to Stolen Horse International and look under the tab for Services. There’s a link for Equine Identification.

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Microchipping-why?

microchipSee that little bitty brown thing? That’s a microchip. They do NOT have the ability to be tracked from outer space. Whoever is spreading that rumor around is wearing a tin foil hat and living in rooms lined in tin foil. The reason is quite simple. In order to transmit a signal up to a satellite, it would have to have a power source. Any power source with enough juice to do that would currently be the size of a small loaf of bread. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anybody implanting a small loaf of bread into anything-especially when you figure you’d have to redo it every 12-24 months. Yikes.

So we have this thing which just sits there and does absolutely NOTHING until a scanner comes along and hits it with a signal asking for the encoded number. Then it responds with the number-and that’s all it does. You can’t change the number. You can’t do anything to make it do anything else. It just sits there.

Why microchip? If all the thing does is give a number, then big hairy whoop, right? Wrong. See-each microchip is unique-and I use that word correctly. There is only ONE NUMBER PER CHIP ever. It is analogus to getting a registration number for your horse, dog, cat, iguana, or whatever-even your saddle or bridle. You know those Vehicle Identification Numbers on your car, truck, horse trailer? Same idea. You microchip your horse and then register your name and information along with your horse’s information. Bingo! Everything is linked.

Now here’s the thing-you need to put that number on everything related to your horse. Coggins paperwork, breed registration, health certificates, show paperwork–everything and anything related to your horse. Why? Because if something happens to your horse or if you have to take that horse out of the country and prove ownership, guess what? Right again-when you scan that chip, the number will match all of the paperwork and it will come back to you.

And, God forbid, if the horse is stolen-law enforcement will LOVE you having a microchip registry certificate and a microchip scanner. It won’t matter that somebody else is standing there with a forged bill of sale. You’ll have proof the horse is really yours. NetPosse Store $40 is cheap insurance. Sign up for the NIP Registry, too.

Mistakes I See People Making–

Don’t want to seem harsh or critical-because this is something that I’ve learned through observation and I feel it is not just tragic, but avoidable-most of the time. Sometimes it isn’t. Life can be like that-it will bite us while we are busy making other plans and I will be the first to tell you that I’ve been bitten more than a few times. I’d just like to same somebody else’s heart-and butt-from the pain.

  • When you buy/lease/loan/give away a horse-for heaven’t sake, write out a Bill of Sale and make two copies-one for each party. I don’t really care if the horse is worth $1 or $100K-take the time to do it.
  • Get somebody else to “witness” both of you signing that paperwork-and they need to sign it as well. Then make a photo of you/them/horse in ONE PHOTO and make sure the photo is automatically dated. (if you don’t know how to do that on your cell phone, either read the manual or go to your provider and they’ll show you.) Send a copy to the other person.
  • Put copies of all documentation-Bills of sale, Coggins, vet records, breed registration, photos, microchip certificate. show records, etc. into at LEAST two places-I recommend a file cabinet AND an online place such as Google Docs, OneDrive, Box, DropBox, or some other electronic archive. If you register with the NIP ™ Registry, you can stash it there.
  • If you are leasing or loaning a horse-go check on the horse. I don’t mean call. I mean go check on the horse. Get your butt out there. People have a lot harder time lying about what happened to your horse face to face.
  • Remember-just because you think the person ‘looks’ trustworthy doesn’t mean that they are. Go check them out, ask for references, check those references-and do not be shy. Your horse’s life could depend on it.  Many, many horses never make it to those ‘good’ homes.
  • Once you sell a horse-you have no way to control what happens. That ‘first right of refusal’ thing is a thing that is touted a lot. It doesn’t work. If somebody wants to turn around and sell your horse to slaughter-there is nothing to stop them. NOTHING. Legally, it is their horse to do what they want to with. How do they get by with it? Very simple-it costs a lot of money and a whole lot of time to bring a lawsuit about a broken contract. In the meantime, your horse is long gone. That’s reality.
  • Waiting and hoping the horse will come home. If your horse is missing-call NetPosse right then. Don’t wait. It takes anywhere from 3-7 days for a horse to go from your pasture to either Canada or Mexico. Much less than that in Florida-they are gone overnight. If you wait-you’re gambling with your horse’s life.

Is this some tough language? Yeah-probably for some folks. I hope it’s a wake up for some.

 

Volunteering

I work with an organization named Stolen Horse International because it is different from the usual “we’re raising funds to save _____ (fill in the blank of the hip number, name, description) of the horse(s), mules(s), or donkey(s)”  in dire distress groups. I can’t go to the sales and auctions because I’d bring all of them home with me or go to jail for beating up somebody. (Besides the fact my spouse would shoot me if I did.) They have their place and their supporters-and that’s fine. I can’t be into that part of things. That’s aside from the fact that I have my own opinions  and they have theirs. We work together sometimes-but you have to pick your battles.

The battles this group fights is that of what is primarily rural crime-that of people who steal or otherwise make horses and other livestock disappear behind the owner’s back. Note the ‘otherwise disappear’ part. This refers to the taking of the horse or livestock because of unpaid board bills, unpaid trainer’s or farrier’s bills, divorce proceedings, parents or ‘friends’ selling horses while the owner moves or is deployed, etc. There are many reasons-some of them very legal-for this to happen.

There’s also the panic that ensues when livestock of any kind escapes for any cause-break in the fence, tornado, storms, wildfires, floods, spooks and heads for who knows where, or a gate left open. If there’s a way for horses and livestock to get loose, they’ll find it.

This group’s mission is to help owners find them against some pretty heavy odds-including the fact that nefarious people will take them to sales with bogus papers to sell for slaughter. It takes a village and a website to pull it off. It takes experience, contacts, many people working sometimes around the clock, thousands of social media contacts on several  different ones, and direct email ALERTS to individuals, organizations, and media outlets.