Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guest Post by Jessica Swan: AKA JSwan on "What Remains"

OK, I did not post as I promised. I am a bad blogger. I can't even make up an excuse because then I would be a bad dis-honorable bad blogger. So The truth is I went out searching for more guest bloggers to talk about things YOU need to know even when I do not have time to tell you. They think about this stuff all the time. They are experts in their fields. It was so nice having Jennifer Williams do a guest blog on her area of expertise I got another guest blogger for this post and a few more lined up. I have a blog from a criminal attorney lined up, a bankruptcy attorney to talk about our dreaded debt, and hopefully a sports and entertainment attorney to talk about the ins and outs of these new fangeled sponsorship deals some of the upper level riders are getting these days. And I am working on a post about the employee/private contractor distinction, liability and the tax consequences. Without further delay, today's blog:

After We Say Goodbye: Disposing Of Equine Remains

Jessica Swan

For all the joy that horses bring to our lives, we pay a price. We must endure the pain of parting with our equine friends when they become ill, old, or suffer a traumatic injury. Sometimes, the issue of disposal is not addressed before death occurs, or the chosen method may not be available due to circumstances beyond the owner’s control.

A horse owner should know what options are available in his area, evaluate the pros and cons of each, and observe any statutory or regulatory requirements, before faced with a euthanasia decision; which is a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved.

Increasingly, disposal of animal remains is regulated or restricted. Improper or incomplete disposal of remains may pollute groundwater, attract scavengers, rodents, or pose a health hazard to humans, pets, or wildlife. Authorities or neighbors may take exception to an owner’s choice and take action against the horse owner if the remains cause any of the above to occur.

You do not need to be an attorney or veterinarian to locate information on this subject, most or all the information you need is freely available from reliable sources:

1. Statutes, ordinances or restrictive covenants:
A. Depending upon your location, on-site disposal of animal remains may be regulated, restricted, or prohibited. For those who live in equestrian subdivisions, covenants may restrict or prohibit disposal of livestock remains. Check your state code, local ordinances, and any covenants before making your decision. An additional resource may be your county/town zoning administrator or homeowners association.

2. Your State Department of Agriculture or Extension Service
A. These agencies offer free information for livestock owners. The Agriculture Department may restrict burial, composting, or burning of livestock that died of reportable diseases. It may also oversee cremation facilities or renderers that operate in your state.
B. The Extension Service and its agents may provide support, guidance, and information to horse owners seeking education in on-site composting of livestock mortalities, assistance in locating a renderer, or may be able to put a horse owner in touch with other owners, farmers, or ranchers who can be a resource.

3. Veterinarians, equine hospital/veterinary college, animal shelter, equine rescues
A. Veterinary and lay professionals may be a resource for locating a backhoe operator, renderer, or cremation facility, and may have that information for you when they pay their final visit.
B. Clinics, equine hospitals, or veterinary colleges may offer cremation for a fee; even if the fatality did not occur in their facility.
C. Your animal shelter or local equine rescue may be able to provide a referral for pickup, burial, or cremation. Some rescues may offer euthanasia clinics, which defers some of the final costs and resolves the issue of disposal.

After the owner identifies the available options, their choice is essentially an emotional and/or a financial one. There is no single “right” answer. The key is to ensure the method is permissible; a mistake may cost you dearly and cause great heartache.

This article is not a comprehensive resource; only a starting point for horse owners unfamiliar with disposing of livestock remains, but who wish to educate themselves.

Since restrictions and prohibitions are increasingly common, horse owners should stay informed and provide feedback and input to their horse industry board so their voice is heard within government. Farmers and ranchers are long accustomed to dealing with farm mortalities; and usually have the equipment, facilities, and knowledge to dispose of them. Some horse owners, especially those in less rural areas or in subdivisions, may not have the same background.

Although improper or incomplete disposal of remains can be a legitimate concern for the public, when armed with good information horse owners are fully capable of disposing of the remains of their cherished equine partners.

Jessica Swan is a retired development professional, working primarily within conservation and agriculture. A lifelong equestrian, she is fortunate to share her life with three wonderful horses on her small farming operation in Virginia.

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