Friday, March 27, 2009

Next Up: Texas and Anmal Welfare Laws

I saved Texas for last. I think going through a few states and seeing the code and seeing how the states apply the code gives you a good overview of how states treat animal neglect and abuse cases. Texas should be up this weekend.


This is my rants and ramblings about issues I see in Animal Law. You should no more use this blog as legal advice then you should expect Alan Shore to come to court and save your ass in one hour or less. Just because a lawyer says it does not make it set in stone. It takes 2 lawyers, a judge, a set of facts and a whole lot of words to decide any case. I tend to not post a lot of actual case law because it will make your brain bleed. Its already all out there and most of it online. What you read here--and any time you DO NOT HIRE ME AND PAY and create an attorney client relationship, is just what I think on that day about that subject and what I may argue for my client to kick your clients ass.

THE CODE is only half the story in any legal issue. The CASE LAW, as discussed way back in the first few posts, is just as important as the Code. The code is applied to people and facts with lots of discretion and flexibility. That is intentional. Code law and case law must be taken together to form a whole picture for any predictive value on how any particular case gets handled. Because laws are subject to interpretation and sometimes do not get changed for years after the courts have moved on, you can't take the code as being a complete set of instructions any more then you can take a courts ruling with no basis in a code of laws to go unchallenged. I have half a ton of case law books that are made up of appeals because this is not science, its an art form.

Once you have code and case law understood, then you begin to see how it applies to the facts in your case. Its is the job of an attorney to make arguments based on the code and the case law that will favor her client. Its the job of the opposing counsel to make opposite arguments in favor of his client. Then a judge and or jury decides who is more convincing. Judges also much spend a lot of time trying to decide which lawyer is making a better argument about what the code says and what judges that came before him did. Most of this happens in papers exchanged before anyone steps into a courtroom. Same code, same case law, but years of arguments to decide the same set of facts.

That is what we are taught in law school--not how to fill out the paper work, but to be able to see the same words and make then say our client is right and the other guy is wrong. In recent years, like the last 2, there has been a move to teach law students other skills too like knowing 1/100th of what a paralegal does about filling out forms, but making the winning argument is what we do. Or at least try to.

If law were just a matter of plugging in the Code to a case we would have no need for our legal system. A computer could do that. That is not how the game is played. But in all cases, the first place to look should be the Code. Not the last and only place, but the first. Then let the games begin.

Updates on NH & FL cases "Swine and Pigs"

2 new developments in the NH case: Charges and Video of the horses seized

The horses look bad, but not at deaths door. However, this is after 3 weeks of proper care. Had they been left at the farm they may be three weeks skinnier and knock knock knocking on heaven’s door.

If you look closely (and I have watched it about 10 times), you will see what appears to be very thin yearlings or rising 2 year olds. But look at their tails. Not baby tails. Those are the tails of late 2 to early 3 year olds. These horses might be forever stunted by the lack of proper nutrition they had with the accused.

On the bright side I do know of a few TB race horses that had it even worse. Clint and Josey were like line drawings at 3 and were bought by a kind and experienced trainer. While neither went on to win the KY Derby. Clint, although tiny, did win quite a few races in his day and Josie went off to become a children’s hunter and won many championships. Both were well loved and overcame such a bad start. I hope good outcomes for these little guys and gals too.

Update on the Pig Case I blogged about Last Fall.

This is not a hoarder. It’s a good contrast to the NH case. Things got bad for a short time and the owner did everything she could in the best interest of the animals. Never ranted about conspiracies, she worked with the Humane Society, she worked with the authorities, she never made it about HER, HER, HER and HER RIGHTS to HER PROPERTY. It was always about what could do the most for the welfare of the animals. Turned out the best thing for the pigs was HER and all parties agree.

Pig sanctuary owner, state agree on terms

BUNNELL -- Lory Yazurlo, who runs Pig Tales Sanctuary, reached an agreement with the state Thursday resulting in one charge against her related to her swine herd being dropped and outlining how she can have a second charge dropped.

After the hearing, Yazurlo sat in her wheelchair and said she was relieved she will be keeping her approximately 390 pigs. She said her biggest worry had been that the state would want to kill the pigs.

"I'm happy it's over with," Yazurlo said. "I don't want to take a chance on them for some reason taking the pigs away, so I'd just rather have it over with."

Assistant State Attorney Scott Westbrook dropped a charge of cruelty to animals. And Yazurlo, 45, pled no contest to a charge of unlawful abandonment or confinement of animals. If she has no legal or pig problems in the next 12 months, that charge will also be dropped.

As part of the agreement to drop the misdemeanor charges she must comply with requirements already in place by the state Department of Agriculture for the pigs' care. No pigs can be taken off her property and no new pigs added; all male pigs must be castrated; she must have fencing to keep wild pigs out and she must provide sufficient feed and fresh water for the pigs.

Yazurlo's agreement with prosecutors will be monitored by the Flagler Humane Society, which initiated the complaint against her in November, saying the pigs at her 20-acre sanctuary in rural Flagler County were emaciated and malnourished.The next month the Flagler Humane Society and Yazurlo reached their own agreement, including some of the same requirements she agreed to with the state.

Thursday's agreement to drop one charge and eventually drop the second is the best resolution, public defender Judith Davidson said.

"It's a for-sure outcome as opposed to a trial where you can never know what can happen," Davidson said. "But she maintains her innocence."

Westbrook said he dropped the cruelty to animals charge, because it had a connotation that Yazurlo was somehow torturing the pigs and that was not the case.

"One can't help but have some sympathy for the circumstances that she finds herself in," Westbrook said.

Charlene Yazurlo said her daughter didn't do anything wrong. She said her daughter is all about the pigs.

"Lory's main concern is the pigs and she's very willing to accept this offer because it benefits the pigs," Yazurlo said. "It's the best thing for the pigs.

Yazurlo and her family are asking for volunteers to help them with some work around the Pig Tales Sanctuary, such as putting up an electric fence, and for donations of feed. They said they could also use a volunteer who has a bucket-loader backhoe. To help, call Yazurlo's mother, Charlene, at 386-439-4583 or send an e-mail to

Monday, March 23, 2009

AL Case Continued: Part V. Who you gonna call?

In my personal experience, I have met several Animal Control Officers who have no knowledge of proper horse husbandry and defend the very people you are trying to report. I have also met many good ones. The fact there is no training or standards is a big problem. Especially in a state like AL where neglect is a criminal offense yet the people in charge of enforcing those laws seem to be no better themselves.

Nothing has been done at all and no real proof was offered as a defense. The people with the horses said they had wormed them once a month for 4 months. There should be no skinny horses after 4 months with proper care. The DA should have dug deeper and not taken the word of 1 Vet. Doesn’t the NH system seem better now?

This is a series of posts on a BB by the person who found the horses. There were at least 2 dead—one dead for quite a long time and 1 recently dead just lying on the ground where the horses were grazing. 1 horse was in good shape. The rest disappeared. The owners never suggested they buried the horses at all. But the Sheriff supplies that as their defense? Who you gonna call if Law Enforcement is not doing their job?

1)Hey Everyone,

I have had a very upsetting weekend. Went to help a friend catch a loose pony yesterday and found several dead and starving horses. These animals belong to Kenny Price, Colbert County Animal Control Officer. I immediately called and filed a report with the Sheriff and Officer Joe Shanes was out today. Officer Shanes did speak with the owner. I gave Officer Shanes a copy of the pictures I took yesterday. Officer Shanes is going to present his finding to the District Attorney tomorrow. I would like to ask everyone to send an e-mail to the DA asking them to prosecute the owner. I am VERY Concerned that nothing is going to be done and the remaining horses will die. VERY GRAPHIC Pictures Attached

2)The horses had NO FOOD when I found them and have received NO Vet Care! The "owner" told me in front of Officer Shanes that half of the horses were given to him. We are all e-mailing and requesting copies of the paperwork showing when & where confiscated, plus Vet Records. This ACO has had warnings in the past for not caring for his animals. Conditions at the animal shelter where he works are deplorable as well. Horses have been seen at the shelter with no food or water for days. This has been an ongoing issue, But I have been the first one to make a fuss.

3)I don't know where the horses are now I saw the guy moving two of them last night. They were on County Rd 301 in Florence, AL. I called the Sheriff's Office and reported that he was moving the horses, but they did nothing. Channel WHNT 19 is the only one who has contacted me back. Am SO disappointed!!!

4)Here is a copy of the most recent e-mail from the DA. There was a total of 8 horses to start. They moved 5 of them yesterday. There are 2 horses still up there and a pony who goes through the fence to a friends house.

Sent: 3/9/2009 5:44:09 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: RE: Starving Horses

I regret that you are disappointed in me. Please know that this matter is not over. We are continuing to try to ascertain the facts. I have received several emails about this situation. In an effort to be responsive to them, I sent out a quick “status report” earlier today. Apparently, I should have emphasized that this was merely a status report and that we are continuing to look into it.



Nothing else was ever heard of the fate of these horses.

AL Case Continued: Part IV

A Vet writes a letter saying the horses came to the Animal Control Officer in the state they were. He condemns people for reporting it. He condemns the press for reporting on it. But he never actually says how long the horses had been there or why some were dying. And it does not take 6 months to get a horse form a BCS of 1 to at least 3 or 4. Just because you are a Vet does not mean you know what you are talking about. I know lots of lawyers who do not know what they are talking about. I am sure there are people out there saying the same thing about me. This Vet did not know what year it is.

Letter from DVM about horses

March 10, 2008

To Whom it May Concern:
This letter is written in response to a situation related to us by Kenny Price and a subsequent farm visit made to a group of horses under his care. Mr. Price has been involved with the rescue and rehabilitation of neglected and undernourished horses for several years. He has other horses under his care that were found to exhibit good body condition. The group in question involves 5-6 horses that are kept together at a rehab pasture at the end of Lauderdale County Road 302 in Alabama. We had been contacted at the behest of Mr. Price due to a complaint of abuse charges against him and the resultant media hype generated by such.
There appeared to be more than 25 acres of land including some wooded land with at least two sources of water. After a couple of days of near 80 degree weather in March, the grasses were greening and all horses were grazing as we arrived. A half eaten roll of sorella mix hay was present and an earlier roll eaten down could be observed. The white horse in the group was in the best condition and has been there since summer. The majority had body condition score of two and appeared to be responding happily though still in a serious state. The critical individual was a sorrel with a BCS of 1 and who is one of the newest additions this winter. This individual is frail but actively grazing. Anemia, which is common in rehab horses, is exhibited via oral mucus membranes. Vitamin B-12 or complexes injections every two weeks were recommended on all individuals for this reason. This individual has received some special care and may require more as her condition evolves.
We discussed the need to de-worm monthly which Mr. Price was already doing. The need to rotate families of de-worming agents was also encouraged. W are both agreed that a sick horse needs fiber from hay and grazing, not abundant grain. (The re-feed phenomenon observed at the end of World War II where several concentration camp survivors were subsequently killed by the generosity of their liberators who gave them too much food too quickly, is very real.) Horses that are rescued are often foundered or caused to colic by their well intentioned new handlers. Mr. Price has avoided these pitfalls in almost twenty years of dealing with such situations. We briefly talked about concurrent illnesses that afflict debilitated horses. This group is battling a common skin infection know as "Rain Rot". Though there are many possible treatments available, we tried to recommend a high yield, easily performed option for this group. As we near the end of winter, many animals need the best quality of feed at this time. Therefore, the supplementation of range cubes from Alfalfa based forage or the introduction of a Bermuda hay source would be advisable. When grain is introduced it should be in small amounts and at frequent intervals.
We briefly alluded to the need to verify by picture future animals that enter the program and initiate the charting of their progress to avoid any confusion by the uninformed. We also recommended that some sort of simple sign be mounted at the gate to designate this pasture as a rescue, rehabilitation effort.
O feel a need to offer a personal opinion on this situation. All would agree that these are thin horses. However, there is a dramatic difference between one who has allowed a healthy horse to become thin through neglect, and one who is trying to recover a thin horse back to health. This nutritional recovery process in Equines usually is a six month minimum project, if no set backs are encountered. The above situation is neither pristine nor perfect, but it is adequate.
Where do most people believe such nutritional rehab occurs? There is no dream barn and yard in Lexington, Kentucky that magically takes in and cares for horses rescued from dire circumstances.
Many folks desire that such rehab be available to needy horses, but they have no clue what is demanded either in terms of time, money, nor effort to obtain such. The overzealous media person with a microphone and a camera and a spin will do nothing but discourage those who are already involved. The unknowledgeable well intentioned citizen who reports such honest efforts like the above as abuse is not capable of such care. However, such accusations may well scare those who are capable away from their labor of love because of the potential for bad press and its repercussions. It is incumbent upon the powers-that-be to recognize these issues and distinguish wisely in the discharge on their duties. If folks like Mr. Price do not perform rehab on a grass roots effort it will not be done with any success.
These in brief are my findings and assessments. If any further explanation is required please contact me.
Yours truly,
T. C. Hammond, DVM

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Next we have the AL code. Nothing in the Ag code applies but the rights to take and seize animals. But not when and why.


3-1-8. Destruction of certain abandoned animals by members, etc., of societies for prevention of cruelty to animals
Any agent, officer or member of a duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may lawfully destroy or cause to be destroyed any animal found abandoned and not properly cared for which may appear, in the judgment of two reputable citizens called by him to view the same in his presence, to be superannuated, infirm, glandered, injured or diseased past recovery for any useful purpose.

3-1-10. Wanton, malicious, etc., destruction, injury, etc., of animal or article or commodity of value of another -- Prohibited
Any person, who unlawfully, wantonly or maliciously kills, disables, disfigures, destroys or injures any animal or article or commodity of value which is the property of another must, on conviction, be fined not less than twice the value of the injury or damage to the owner of the property nor more than $1,000.00 and may also be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than six months, and so much of the fine as may be necessary to repair the injury or loss shall go to the party injured.

3-1-11. Wanton, malicious, etc., destruction, injury, etc., of animal or article or commodity of value of another -- Proof of trespassing by animal in mitigation or justification of offense; tender of compensation
Upon the trial, the defendant may prove in mitigation or justification, as the jury may determine, that, at the time of the killing, disabling, disfiguring, destruction or injury, the animal killed, disabled, disfigured, destroyed or injured was trespassing and had within six months previously thereto trespassed upon a growing crop, inclosed by a lawful fence or while such animal was running at large in violation of law. No conviction must be had, if it is shown that, before the commencement of the prosecution, compensation for the injury was made or tendered to the owner.

3-1-11.1. Killing or disabling livestock; penalty
(a) Any person, who unlawfully, wantonly or maliciously, kills, disables, disfigures, destroys, or injures the livestock of another while said livestock is on the premises of the owner of said livestock or on the premises of a person having charge thereof shall be guilty of a Class "C" felony.
(b) In addition to being guilty of a Class "C" felony, any person who unlawfully, wantonly or maliciously, kills, disables, disfigures, destroys, or injures the livestock of another while such livestock is on the premises of the owner of the livestock, or on the premises of a person having charge thereof, shall be liable for damages sustained by the killing, disabling, disfiguring, or destroying of said livestock in an amount equal to double the value thereof.
(c) For purposes of this section, livestock is defined as horses, cows, swine, goats, sheep, mules, and asses.

3-1-13. Right of officers, etc., of humane societies to take charge of and care for neglected or abused animals; written notice to owner from whom animal taken; lien for expenses for care and keeping of animal
Any duly authorized officer or employee of a recognized humane society shall have the right to take charge of any animal which is sick or disabled due to neglect or is being cruelly treated or abused and to provide care for such animal until it is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to its owner or to the person from whose custody such animal was taken. The officer so taking such animal shall at the time of taking the animal give written notice to the owner or person from whose custody it was taken. The necessary expenses incurred for the care and keeping of the animal after such notice by the humane society shall be a lien thereon and, if the animal is not reclaimed within 10 days from the giving of such notice, the humane society may sell the animal to satisfy such lien. If the humane society determines that the animal cannot be sold, it may cause the animal to be otherwise disposed of.

3-1-16. Employment by county commissions of persons to enforce laws for prevention of cruelty to animals; compensation, oath and powers of same
The county commissions of the respective counties of this state may employ a suitable person or persons who shall be charged specially with the duty of enforcing all laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and to fix the compensation of such officer or officers, which shall be paid in the same manner as other salaries of county employees are paid, and such officer or officers, upon taking the oath as required to be taken by deputy sheriffs, shall be vested with all powers now vested by law in deputy sheriffs.

3-1-23. Burning, cauterizing, etc., of teeth of horse, mule, etc., for purpose of fraudulently making horse, etc., appear younger -- Prohibited
Any person burning, cauterizing or mechanically changing the natural appearance or condition of the teeth of any horse, mule or other soliped in order to fraudulently make such animal appear younger than the animal really is shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

3-1-24. Burning, cauterizing, etc., of teeth of horse, mule, etc., for purpose of fraudulently making horse, etc., appear younger -- Evidence as to burning, etc., of teeth to be substantiated by veterinarian
The evidence required for the conviction of any person for violating any provision of section 3-1-23 must be substantiated as to the burning, cauterizing or changing of the natural appearance or condition of the teeth of such horse, mule or other soliped by a graduate licensed veterinarian and, when necessary, the state veterinarian or a graduate veterinarian selected by the state veterinarian shall determine and testify to the changes that have been made in the teeth of such animal or animals.

3-1-25. Burning, cauterizing, etc., of teeth of horse, mule, etc., for purpose of fraudulently making horse, etc., appear younger -- Effect of possession of such horse, etc
The possession of any horse, mule or other soliped which has had its teeth burned, cauterized or mechanically changed in order to make such animal appear younger than it really is shall be prima facie evidence of intent to violate the provisions of section 3-1-23.

3-1-26. Burning, cauterizing, etc., of teeth of horse, mule, etc., for purpose of fraudulently making horse, etc., appear younger -- Transportation, etc., of such horse into state
Any person transporting or moving into Alabama, for any purpose whatsoever, any horse, mule or other soliped which has had its teeth burned, cauterized or changed in any manner to make such animal appear younger than it really is shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Lastly we have the actual cruelty statues. Please notice they are found in the CRIMINAL CODE. Not under animals and not under Ag and not under Morals. Its a CRIMINAL CODE and thus requires knowingly or recklessly committing the crime of neglect. This differs from any of the other states we have looked at.
And they did not give much guidance to know when you are neglecting an animal and when you are not. It a very bad law and the criminal standard is huge to overcome. What? They need feed every day? I didn't know that. Not guilty.



13A-11-14. Cruelty to animals
(a) A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if, except as otherwise authorized by law, he intentionally or recklessly:
(1) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment; or
(2) Subjects any animal in his custody to cruel neglect; or
(3) Kills or injures without good cause any animal belonging to another.
(b) Cruelty to animals is a Class B misdemeanor.

Alabama needs to clean this mess up, get things defined, and find out what happened at the farm in question. But AL has not said one word about this case since the day after it hit the news. Nobody has.

Stealing Fugly for Case #2. AL and AC out of Control.

Next case is out of Alabama. Its the first time I have ever tried to add pictures and also the first time I have just cut and pasted someone else's blog entry. Its from Fugly Horse of the Day and its a great place for me to start this case. I did not write this text. I did edit it for naughty words and calls for action. You can read the original entry on its own blogsite.

Like most cases its gone and forgotten from the general press in a few weeks. I will do another post to see how things turned out and to see what the actual Alabama law has to say about this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A few days ago, in the middle of an escaped pony drama, some ladies came upon the horses you see here. And more. I'm not posting the picture of the dead ones.

Now, at this point everybody knows what to do when you see horses like this, right? Take pictures - which the ladies did - and call animal control!

Er, um, slight problem with the second part: The owner of the horses is an animal control officer. Actually, he's the A.C. Supervisor. Joy.

Yeah, you heard me. Fortunately, these were smart ladies and they did the smart thing, which was run screaming to the Sheriff and the D.A. The D.A. promptly turned it over to the State Vet to investigate and that is where we are at today.

Now, to answer your first question, no, I don't think these horses were newly rescued, although that's certainly what these asshats, Kenny and Aleshia Price (he's the A.C. officer) have to say. Witness the usual round of "but we're a RESCUE" excuses:

Aleshia even has an excuse for the two half-eaten dead horses on the place. She says they shot them (I assume they have some argument for why this was needed) and left them there to distract those wily coyotes from their live horses.

"We felt the carcasses could not be seen by any house or anywhere," Aleshia Price said. "There are a lot of coyotes. We felt humane to let them feed on something than attacking our horses."

OK, how often does a coyote attack a horse? We had tons of them when I boarded in Topanga. They are skittish creatures and never came near a horse. The funny part is, even Aleshia's husband knows this much - I found an article where he talks about them killing cats and small dogs. Yes, that is exactly what they kill. It is not necessary to leave them a buffet of rotting horse to keep them away from your live ones! You just didn't want to pay for disposal. I wonder if we will, indeed, find a bullet in those carcasses - or if they starved to death?

Kenny likes the media, normally! He is usually all too happy to give interviews about how they just want to educate people and help! Um, Kenny, charity begins at home - I think your horses would have liked some of that help. Particularly the dead ones. It's one thing when you see people in desperate straits with skinny horses - and you know that I think you should give them away before it gets that far. But this guy is (a) EMPLOYED and (b) EMPLOYED TO PROTECT ANIMALS! What exactly is the problem here, and did you think your property was invisible and no one was ever going to see this?

I hope the D.A. throws the book at him AND his b.s.-spewing wifey. Surely, even in Florence, Alabama, you can hire a better A.C. officer. I recommend one of the folks who turned him in!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This Weeks Featured Case Continues:NH part III

The owners have posted their side of the story for all to see. Its a confession. Its a series of excuses and a demonstrated lack of knowledge. But even though they claim to have paid a lawyer $20K as a retainer, they post this anyway.

Pretty much all the classic signs of a hoarder. They just do not get it.

Its not our fault, they say. Stuff is expensive. We didn't know the law. We planned on doing it right some day. They don't need to eat every day--just when we can afford it. All the horses are healthy except the old ones, the broodmares who had babies a few years ago, the stallion and the hard keepers. Oh, and most of the ones in the video who are still on the thin side. Its not our fault because nobody can keep weight on those horses in the winter.


If I had any doubts, this new video has removed them.

And the attorney? DOUBLE YOUR RATES!

Its not the worst case I have seen and its not the worst I will show you, but there is clearly a problem there and they do not see it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

NH Case Updates.

I can see you. I have a stat counter and can see who visits by location and search terms. I cannot (and would not want to) see who any individual is, but I can see a bunch of people doing google searches about animal cruelty and neglect just since I posted this morning.

So HERE IS THE ANSWER. Since I am also reading the super secret forum NHunderground. I am only on page 15, but its has been posted several times that #1 is a warning. We know they got the warning because that whole event was posted on You-tube back in Nov and someone even got arrested at the time. #2 is a seizure and a chance to correct the conditions and get your animals back. That is where things stand now. Build some shelters, get more fenced in areas so they have more room, buy a book about basic horse care so you know about things like feed and Coggins tests and and stallion management and body condition scores and when to find new homes for your horses before you go begging to a rescue to take in your animals. Then you get your horses back. #3 is permanent seizure. We are not on #3 yet.

Stop posting about how unfair it all is and go get the work done to get the place up to code and up to basic standards. Evey comment you make just shows your lack of knowledge and brings up more bad information from the past. But your state is very nice. They give you another chance. You CAN get the horses back by showing you understand how to care for them and bringing your place up to the code.

If it were me I might not give them back based on comments made after the seizure that show a serious lack of concern about the welfare of the animals and a serious lack of knowledge about how to care for horses. But is not me. Its a NH SPCA.

If you show up next week with tons of shelter and plans on how to educate yourself and lots of feed and adequate space for your animals then I will feel sorry for you. Then I will say that's not fair. If you cannot afford to have a decent place or your horses, buy bikes. Nobody will care what you do with them.

But for right now its fair. If you want to play poor me or poor me victim then I suggest you do not post everything that happens on the internet. Because I can see you. And so can the rest of the world.

Lets Look at Some Cases! Case #1, NH.

Whew! What a crazy couple of weeks. I have been working my posterior off and apologize for taking do so long to get back to posting. I know all 3 of you readers must have been hand wringing, whinging and agonizing about when I would come back and post! That would be. . . now!

Not only has it been a busy couple of weeks at work, but its been a busy couple of weeks for the topic at hand—animal welfare and abuse. There were so many cases from all ends of the spectrum and all over the country that I just wanted to see how some of them turned out.

I think most of us are very much pro-animal welfare legislation. The few that aren’t probably do not read my blog. I am. I am very very much in favor of some kind of regulation and legislation that protects animals and does not leave everything in the hands of uncaring, uneducated, unable or just downright nasty owners.

What I do not know is how to fairly and effectively enforce such legislation. Well, that is not true. I do know: Lots of money, proper training, active oversight and continuing education. Put me in charge. Guidelines and standards to be applied would do a lot of good too. But that is simply not the reality and it is too much to ask for. It’s a very young idea to actually enforce the laws designed to protect animals, so many of the kinks have not been worked out. Oh, hell, that’s not true either. I do court appointed cases for child neglect and abuse and its just as kinky as animal law, but its been around for a lot longer.

I am going to do an around the nation peek at some recent cases with comments. This is not designed to stir up controversy or enrage or engage the masses to revolt, its just to show how the same goals and types of laws get applied in completely random and unexplainable ways as we struggle to learn how to operate the machine of animal welfare laws. But the owners often have the same, predictable reaction.

First case is the most recent on my personal radar—the seizure of some horses in New Hampshire.

CANDIA – Twelve horses were seized from a property in town on Monday over concerns about shelter and welfare, according to police.

Charges are yet to be filed and the investigation is ongoing.

Brian Travis of 456 Critchett Road said the Arabian horses, owned by his wife, Heidi Fredrick, were seized from his horse farm.

He said the horses are perfectly healthy and alleged they were taken because of a dispute with Steve Sprowl of the NHSPCA.

Two veterinarians from the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Animals were on scene, but NHSPCA director Lisa Dennison referred any questions to the Candia police department.

Police chief Mike McGillen said he could not comment further as the investigation is ongoing.

Here's their own video:

So here is what happened. The horse owners moved from Colorado to New Hampshire. There seems to be some information that they had neglected or abandoned or did something to the horses in Colorado too. Or other horses.

NH has laws about the care of animals. The owners violated some of those laws. They were required to have a very specific amount of shelter for each horse from Fall until Spring. Unlike the SC statute I posted, “shelter” was defined down to the square footage per horse. They were required to have current Coggin’s papers on all horses and should have had health certificates before moving the horses into NH from CO. In addition, they were required to provide adequate feed and water.

In November of last year the SPCA came by to do an inspection and advised the horse owners of the shelter regulations. The owners responded by building some shelters, but nowhere near the amount required by law. Then an ice storm hit and the shelters they built became useless.

Next, for some reason, they contacted a local rescue to come and take a large portion of the horses. The rescue could only take 3 horses. So 3 went to the rescue and the rest remained. Last week the SPCA showed up to seize some of the horses. They cited the lack of shelter and some of the horses being in poor condition as their reason in addition to lack of proper paper work like Coggins.

They did not take all the horses. All the horses they took were not in poor condition. They did take all the horses in poor condition, but did not take all the horses without shelter. So about half the horses remained but still did not have adequate shelter.

The owners of the horses are of a political persuasion that holds private property is private and they can do whatever they wish with their private property. Like Kindergarten children, they have thrown fits about the horses being seized not due to any concern over the horses, but because they were MINE MINE MINE and you can’t have them! Not even the ubiquitous “but I love them and they are my babies and you took them!”

The owners are backed up by their political compatriots who make reasoned arguments that any owner of property will make sure that property is kept in its best and most valuable form and therefore its is illogical to need any government intervention to make sure animals are cared for. This does make a tidy thesis, but it does not account for some animal owners being lazy, stupid, cruel or too poor to do what is best for their animals.

As the story unfolds it appears, IMHO, that perhaps it is possible the horse owners in this case were some of the above. They knew the law on shelters and had known it since at least Nov. They chose to ignore it. They did have the community support that is now rallying around them to build shelters before winter came and the horses were seized. They chose not to do that. They at some point did not feel they had the financial ability to support all the horses and looked to a rescue to . . well. . .rescue the horses. They did not try and sell these valuable animals. Instead, they sought to give them away to a place for horses that needed to be saved. They have an excuse for why 1 horses was skinny—he is a stallion and fretted over the mares—but they do not explain why they did not move him away from the mares or just feed him more. No excuse for the other 5 skinny horses has been offered.

Next they say they were unaware of the need for a current Coggin’s test on the horses or the health certificates. However unlikely that is, given their claim of being experts in horse care and that they had valuable show and race horses, ignorance of the law is no defense. They say the government has no right take their horses over some “paperwork”. That is an excellent topic for a philosophy class, but try telling it to the IRS.

So they ignored the laws, some knowingly and willingly, gave substandard care to some of the animals and got caught. At no time have they shown any concern over the horses’ welfare or made any reasonable explanations as to why they had failed to provide shelter or feed. All they do is deny that horses need either shelter or feed.

What makes this case interesting is not that the horses were in horrible shape. They weren’t. They were helped before things got that bad. Its is interesting because if you look for more information and read the BBs and comments and statements made by the owners and their supporters, you get an instant education in the concept that animals are personal property and what you do with them ain’t nobodies business but your own. In their own words and in the extreme. Frankly, I can’t replicate it here and you should go read it yourself. Google the owner’s names and the comments will appear.

The other interesting aspect is that although the SPCA knew since Nov. the horses had inadequate shelter, they left them all though the winter, an ice storm and 3.5 more months before they went to get them. And when they did get them, they did not get them all. I really do not have enough information to know why 12 horses were chosen and not all if only 6 were in poor shape, but it could just be they had nowhere to put them or had hopes that the owners would self correct if given enough time. Remember, the owners themselves recently sought to get rid of the horses because they could not care for them—weeks before the seizure. Perhaps it was felt that they had enough shelter and could care for half the horses, but not all of them.

But its an interesting case and a prime example of the argument that the Government has not right to regulate how you care for your animals. They do not regulate how you care for your car or your boat or your TV unless you infringe upon the rights of others, so why should it be different for animals? The answer is because animals have rights to certain protections as long as those protections are in the code of laws. If you do not like those laws, do not move to that state. If you are already there when the laws are passed, work through the political process to get them changed, but if you just chose to ignore them then do not be surprised when you lose your property.

My personal belief is that I should have a right to all shellfish offered for sale at any time I am hungry because I really like shellfish. I can make up all kinds of arguments about how its my natural right to have that seafood, but if I take it without paying, should it come as a shock to me that I get punished? If I do not understand why I am punished and in fact refuse to understand the whole concept of laws and obeying laws and that laws apply to me no matter what my personal beliefs are, then I should probably get locked up somewhere safe and padded. Somewhere with shrimp.