Reporting Equine Abuse or Neglect
We often get asked what one should do if they suspect equine abuse or
neglect and while the answer may seem very simple - call the local
animal control or humane society - the process isn’t always that simple.
The fact of the matter is that to be an effective advocate for
animals at risk, you must be prepared to commit a potentially
substantial amount of time and effort toward achieving some sort of
resolution to the suffering. Here are some things that you should do if
you suspect equine abuse or neglect:
Report it to the Authorities
Ultimately it is up to the authorities to determine whether or not a
particular situation is actionable and this typically involves a
thorough investigation, sometimes while the animal remains in the
custody of the owner. For this reason, it is imperative that one reports
equine neglect or abuse as quickly as possible.
Please review our
What to Report page for more detailed information on what to report
to the authorities when it comes to equine abuse or neglect or the
Who to Call page for who to contact.
Get to Know Animal Control Officers
Befriend animal control/humane
officers assigned to the case and keep in touch with them. They are your
most important resource and can provide, among other things, insight
into protocol. They can also advise you regarding the tools at your
disposal and, perhaps most importantly, they can tell you what their
Please remember to be professional, courteous,
patient and, above all, persistent. Dealing with county or state
agencies charged with the welfare of animals can be an enormously
frustrating process, even when working with officials that are doing
everything in their power to rectify the situation. This is especially
important when you are emotionally invested in the situation and can see
that time is of the essence. Take detailed notes of your conversations,
the names of people with whom you spoke, dates, and times. Get them to
open a file, investigate, and monitor the situation.
Call early, call often! Follow-up is essential in any neglect situation.
You'd be amazed at how common it is for a case to fall through the
cracks. For instance, efforts to aid a starving horse could be
significantly delayed because animal control saw that law enforcement
had an open file so it closed its files; the trouble with this is that
law enforcement could see that animal control has an open file and
decide to close theirs with neither agency discussing the matter.
Unfortunately instances like this happens, be vigilant.
Be your own advocate and familiarize yourself with local
ordinances and state laws relating to animal abuse and neglect. Ask for
copies from animal control and law enforcement agencies or search the
Internet. Connect with local equine rescue agencies for information and
assistance as well. Click here for more information on
16.52 RCW Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Keep in mind that the media can be a
useful ally in your attempts to rescue an animal. Contact the local
"troubleshooter", "human interest", or "environmental" reporter. The
power of the public hue and cry over such stories can pay big dividends.
Again, a number of factors determine whether a case constitutes equine
neglect or abuse however, this is ultimately a matter for the
authorities. Any suspected equine neglect or abuse should be reported to
local law enforcement (animal control agencies or sheriff’s department)
for investigation in order to make sure it is properly reviewed.
bottom line is that you need to arm you with information and not become
discouraged or give up. There are a vast number of people out there
working on behalf of animals in need, but remember, despite their
apparent numbers, they are a rare breed. Count yourself among them and
never lose sight of the nobility of what you are trying to accomplish.