Chasing Stolen Horses

henrybuddy5050

This was in my home state practically ‘next door’ to where we live. It seems incredible to most people that someone would steal a horse, but they do-and, in many cases, they get away with it. Why? It doesn’t seem logical at first, but it really is very reasonable when you learn the facts.

  • Horses are surprisingly easy to transport and resale. There are supposed to be laws regarding this, but they are quite lax and easily worked around.
  • Most horse owners do not keep adequate records on their horses. By that I mean they do not keep bills of sale, registration papers, photographs, vet bills, Coggins, health certificates, farrier bills, show records, etc. organized and in one place. They can’t prove that a horse is actually THEIRS if their lives depended on it.
  • Owners rarely-rarely-do anything toward permanetly identifying a horse. I guess they think that they can walk out to a holding pen, point their finger, and say, “That’s my horse-give it back.” Nope-sorry, doesn’t work that way. Especially when somebody else is standing there holding a bill of sale that says that same horse belongs to THEM. Guess what John Law is going to do? That’s right-he’s going to side with the person who holds the paperwork. You lose.
  • Auction owners and managers do not know nor do they care where a horse comes from. What they care about is the consignment fee they get when the horse is sold. They want the animals run through quickly and get them off the property. That’s wonderful news for horse thieves, kill buyers, and horse ‘flippers’. Terrible news for horse owners. However-most of them will work with us. Being known as a place where this goes down is bad for business for the most part.
  • The public is genuinely unaware that this really does go on. Even law enforcement doesn’t have a clue on how to react or how to deal with it. We teach as we go.

Fortunately, in this case, the owners came to us immediately so we could get to work to stop the resale before they really got started with their plans. That is critical to making a recovery happen. They never got the horses more than about 100-150 miles from their home.

We blanketed the entire area with notifications on social media and emails. People were putting up that flier everywhere in Georgia and the rest of the Southeast. Auctions were being called. TV stations were doing stories. It became impossible for them to ‘move the product’.

Those horses disappeared on 9/21, but they were back home by 9/26.

What’s going on with the thieves? Don’t know-that’s a question for law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office as the case is still under investigation. Our job is finished.

Now-did we get paid for all this? Well, there is a filing fee of $25. That got them 3 unpaid volunteers working 10-12 hour days for nearly 5 days. I will let you do the math.

Satisfying? Immensely so. You can watch the videos on the Stolen Horse International Facebook page to see the pure joy and relief captured on the images there.

Atlanta Journal Constitution article

Henry County Herald

NetPosse YouTube

captureFundraiser shirts Remembering Idaho

All proceeds raised go to supporting Stolen Horse International, 501(c)(3) organization. 6 styles, 5 colors each $19.99-$34.99 Sale ends soon! Pay it ahead-support what we do. Victim support, horse recovery, education, liaison for law enforcement, valuable resource.

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.