I've been flooded with emails of support today - along with a lot of questions, comments, and many sentiments of outrage, which is to be expected.
To update you on the babies, they are doing splendidly. They are battling the lice but have been treated, and they also have worms and other parasites riddled throughout their little 325 lb. bodies, but that too should be fixed soon. They are eating their little hearts out, and have begun to sass us when going into their stall - which means they're feeling better! The little bay filly we thought had pneumonia, but she too has been on the mend and isn't holding a fever.
Now's a great time for a shameless plug: Care to donate towards these foals or in preparation for the remaining 9, who we are working to be rescued? If so, you can get donation cards for the holidays - to give as a gift to someone. These donation cards state that a donation has been made in the honor of the person you're giving it to, and any amount helps - no amount is too small! To donate, email me directly for instructions (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For now, your questions:
How can the SPCA just leave the other horses there when they know the horses aren't being fed?
The SPCA can only seize animals if they are in "imminent danger." The foals, because of their age and the pneumonia, had very compromised immune systems and without proper care, would certainly die. The other horses, though without shelter or food, were not racks of bones. They were thin -too thin - but not emaciated. So they are being fed, probably enough to be kept alive. Whether this is from the owner or good Samaritans who sneak feed to them in the dark of night (which yes, does happen and we know some people who do it), we don't know.
What most people don't know is how much evidence the SPCA has to have in order to take the animals away. For instance, in NY, horses are still considered "livestock" animals. Therefore, it's not a crime to not give them shelter or blanket them. Also, if the owner has hay on the premises - not necessarily feeding it to the horses - then he is protected somewhat. Is that ridiculous? Absolutely. But it's the law, and sometimes these bozos are protected by it.
What was the owner's reaction to taking the foals? Was he just nuts?
In a word - yes. He is nuts. He's nuts because he firmly believes in his addled brain that he has a Triple Crown winner on his farm. He hasn't had any yet - none have even come close, in fact, because he breeds poorly - but he is just darn sure of it.
He was very unhappy about the foals being taken, and made sure to make menacing remarks to Erin and I, as well as the vet and the SPCA. He would have taken it further if the police weren't there, but instead he insisted on taking photos of everything - from the trailer, to us, etc. He didn't know how to work his camera so I'm sure he won't be able to make any use of the photos, but nonetheless, it was creepy and unnerving. Wherever he was, I made sure I had a police officer between us.
I hope you posted this story on Facebook, too.
Actually, I didn't. I would, except the foals are not yet in the clear - they are not legally ours, yet. There is still an involved court process. Is he going to get them back? We're sure he isn't. However, justice still has to take its course. I also don't want this hugely publicized, because I don't feel that he's a stable person, and the more press this gets at this tenuous juncture, the more chance it has to get to him, and then be traced back to us. The people reading this blog now are good hearted, kind people who are on our side - but until these horses are safe, I want to keep it that way. Please feel free to share with trustworthy people only, who can understand the gravity of the situation.
How do you handle the intense emotions involved with this kind of thing?
Well, this was our first time with such an extreme case, so it was a new experience. At the time of the exams on the other horses, we went through sadness and anger at the time, but then something shifted - grit, perhaps. We went around to the other horses almost mechanically - knowing we couldn't do what we wanted, which was to scoop them all up and take them home. While working with the horses, we all spoke to them softly, pet them, and let them know they were good and we were doing everything we could, while the vet noted every injury and abnormality in every horse, with us pointing out other oddities.
When dealing with the owner and his mistress/ girlfriend/ Lolita (which I nicknamed her), that was a different ball game. I will openly admit that I was afraid of him, and I don't think I was the only one. It was clear to us that he wasn't rational, and that made us the most nervous of all. There was no reasoning with him, and saying anything at all to him would escalate a terrible situation. Believe me, there were comments on my tongue, but at the time, we just knew we had to get the little foals on the trailer as fast as possible and get the heck out of there.
As for Lolita, I noticed that she had enough money to have her nails done - tacky false tips with sparkles and all the bells and whistles. Money for the nails, but not to feed the animals. I detested her immediately.
When I got home, sheer exhaustion set in. It wasn't until then that I fell apart. That night, I had to take a sleeping pill to get the images of the remaining 9 out of my head for the night.
What can we do for the other nine?
Honestly? I don't know. I know that calls go in daily to the SPCA about them, and the SPCA is doing everything they can - believe me. These people were amazing, and they were the true heroes of the day. They do that kind of thing every single day.
I hope this helps. All of your thoughts and good wishes are exactly the pick me up that we need to hear, and it helps more than you can possibly know!