Getting Involved

henrybuddy5050

This happened in my home state-not too far from where I live. So not only did I have the usual “oh, no, not another horse theft” reaction, but it was also “not in MY backyard you don’t!” response. Now I’m not being naive or silly. I know there are probably other thefts in the state that I’m simply not aware of. In fact, I’d bet money on it. I also know that horses are known to disappear because of various kinds of civil disputes-somebody didn’t pay their board bill, went too long without checking on a horse they left on a “friend’s” farm and, guess what, both friend and horse are long gone, and what seems like endless variations on the theme. There are also the lost ones-they dump a rider on a trail ride, jump a fence, bolt for some reason, etc. But the thefts make me just angry.

The rest of the volunteers and I got busy and went to work. So did the mother and daughter who owned the horses-and they poured themselves into it. Phone calls, social media posts, fliers being posted, thousands of emails going out, TV coverage-and soon someone called that they thought they had the palomino, Buddy. He was some miles away which gave us an idea of which direction to look in for the other horse as well.

It turned out that he did have Buddy-so that was one recovered, but one still missing. We kept up the barrage of internet and email notices. Before another 48 hours had passed, we had messages from one of the thieves-they wanted to give the other horse back because they couldn’t sell him! (Broke our hearts, let me tell you!) They dumped him in a woman’s pasture-she called the owners-and they went to pick him up.

What happens to the thieves? That’s up to law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office. Our team of volunteers was interested only in the well-being and recovery of the two horses-and we accomplished what we were there for.

Now-were we paid? Not in the usual sense, no. There is a very modest fee of $25 to file the report. For that they got 3 people working 12 hour days for 4 days. You do the math. I’d say they got more than their money’s worth. Video link-Henry and Buddy

Yep-it’s a wonderful world we live in.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Rewards For My Efforts

Okay-I don’t get a paycheck. So why do I spend hours doing this? (My patient spouse asks from time to time the same question.)

  • I happen to be fascinated by it, I’m more than a bit Obsessive Compulsive, and it hits on my lifelong passion-equines.
  • I was forced into retirement, I have an excellent mind, superb skills, and I despise being bored since I am also ADHD-inattentive variety. (We don’t ‘do’ bored. Give us something to do that we like and we’ll be happy for hours. But bored? We’re dangerous because we’ll find something and it isn’t likely to work out well.)
  • It helps people AND the horses (and sometimes other animals).
  • I learn things (and that keeps me happy, too.)
  • New friends-even if I may never meet them.
  • Unlike a ‘normal’ job, I can pick up and lay this one now at will.
  • No dress code.
  • I can quite literally work anywhere I can get to the internet. I’ve worked at home, at the airport, doctors’ offices, hospital rooms, clinic waiting rooms, at family members’ homes, out of town, hotel rooms, restaurants, etc.
  • Pets are allowed. My Maine coon cat regularly forces computer breaks.
  • Commuting time is nil.
  • Coworkers are great-we’re all online-not a single one in the same city-most of us not in the same state.

The only fly in the ointment is that blasted paycheck thing. There’s always that one thing for every job, isn’t there?

I love my job, but…..;-)

Why Work For Nothing? It Depends

Lots of people work because they have a ’cause’. I think that’s great-the world needs visionary people-for the most part, and giving of yourself is good for you and good for the rest of humanity. Compassion for your fellow humans and making their lives more bearable is laudable. I’ve done it for some things and it is highly rewarding. For those that can do it and keep it up, I have nothing but admiration. For mere mortals like me, it wears on you. I can pop in/out. Just don’t expect me for the long haul-I can’t take it.

For me, I pick things that nobody else seems to be enthused about. I suppose that makes me as contrary as Bernie Sanders, or maybe a mule (and I don’t consider either to be an insult because I think highly of both). I worked for a while for Legal Aid-they provide free legal assistance for those who cannot afford it for any number of things-disputes with their landlords (you’d be amazed at the way a landlord will treat a tenant who pays on time-it is sickening); employers who will short pay people because they know they have little to no legal recourse (and they have the time sheets to prove the work); single parents needing help getting alimony and/or child support payments garnished (you’d be astounded how many of the non-custodial parents had incomes into high six figures), people who want to pay off bills but don’t have the income to do it, might be considering bankruptcy, but either don’t know how to do that, if they should, or even if it is advisable (you can’t get out of student loans even if you die). It was endlessly fascinating, enjoyable, and frustrating.

As a teenager, I volunteered at an area hospital as a Candystriper (junior Auxiliary). I did that for two years. I delivered mail and flowers, ran some errands for the nurses (they don’t trust much to Candystripers), rocked a few babies, fed some patients when they didn’t have enough CNA’s, pushed quite a few wheelchairs, and some other things. It was enough to make me certain that nursing was not a career choice for me, but healthcare was. Then years later, I stumbled upon a group that did international work of a kind that was unusual-instead of going overseas and doing a bunch of good stuff then leaving (and I’ll elaborate later on why that’s a problem), these people go in and TRAIN THE LOCAL PHYSICIANS AND NURSES how to do stuff, take in the necessary equipment, give them contact phone numbers. With the first way, in third world countries, they frequently don’t trust our medicine-so they won’t take it-at all. Or they’ll take part of what they are given-and either save the rest for later or give it away. Another scenario is they’ll take it all at once. Plus there is no one there to follow up on them. With this method, they have their own physicians and nurses there-who know them , speak their language, and who will miss them if they miss a follow-up appointment and go look for them. It makes a difference. Especially since most of the patients that these people treat are children.

So several years ago when I ran across a lady at a Pat Parelli event in Winston Salem, NC who asked me what would I do if my horse was stolen, she had me. I talked with her a bit, but that was it at the time. Didn’t forget her or the organization though. I’d see an article of hers from time to time-and she made sense. Then I was bored and got on the Yahoo groups-joined a couple of them, and there was an ALERT for a horse that showed up on the HORSESCTR group. Intrigued, I clicked on it and guess who? Same group. So I signed up. Then Yahoo started shutting down the groups-and they started going in different directions-some got their own websites, some went to other services, some did both, and some went to that new thing-Facebook. I sort of let it slide-I was past my hairline in alligators.

Over a decade later, I was on Facebook because it was the only way to stay up with some relatives and “what to my wondering eyes should appear, but” another one of those NetPosse ALERTS. Found the Facebook page, decided to answer a post for a volunteer, and I’ve been progressively doing more for them ever since. I write, research, make phone calls, and work behind the scenes.

Why? Because this is a closely knit organization that works to help the victims-both animal and human-of some emotional devastating events. Some have been stolen outright-a criminal event documented by law enforcement. More frequently, the animal was taken to satisfy a debt, as revenge, sold behind somebody’s back, broken lease or adoption agreement, etc.  Less frequently, the owners are frantically looking for a horse that broke away from a trail ride, jumped a fence, dumped a rider, or was involved in a disaster evacuation. Whatever the reason-the result is an emotional roller coaster. They need help organizing their search. They need somebody with the right contacts. They need people who know how to get it done.

And this organization provides resources far beyond just a Facebook page and some hand holding. There’s a store, articles, testimonials, endorsements, sponsors, resources, services, full database, custom webpages, custom fliers, education, and even a page solely for law enforcement. They also use several social media sites in addition to Facebook and their website. They are impressive.

Besides-I can work from my living room, watch the baseball game, and be in my pj’s. Only thing I miss is a paycheck!

 

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.