What should you do if you see an animal in obvious distress? Who should you call, and how will they help?
In the case of these horses, concerned citizens did the right thing. Two different parties observed the horses from the road, and each individual called to report concerns for the horses’ welfare to the OHS Investigations team. Within one day, an OHS Humane Special Agent responded to the scene to investigate the report.
The Humane Agent found the horses to be very underweight and suffering from a variety of untreated medical issues. He spoke with the two individuals to whom the animals belonged, and they were cooperative. The people voluntarily relinquished the horses and one cat to OHS. This meant that OHS could relocate the animals, and their lives had just taken a turn for the better.
How to Help a Horse (or Five)
What is a Humane Special Agent to do with five horses? Rescuing horses presents special challenges for OHS due to horses’ dual roles as both work and companion animals. They have specialized housing and care needs that are not easily met at our shelter in northeast Portland.
In order to provide the specialized care these horses needed, the Investigations team asked for help from Sound Equine Options. SEO is a local nonprofit organization based in Gresham that assists horses and their owners across the northwest with education and support of basic needs.
SEO has partnered with OHS many times to provide care, housing, medical and adoption services for rescued horses. They helped once again on New Year’s Eve, as SEO volunteers traveled to Brooks to remove the horses and take them to a safe location to begin their rehabilitation.
The horses were initially taken to Eagle Fern Equine Hospital for exams and triage, and from there, to excellent foster homes. Each foster home has stalls, turnouts and arenas. The horses receive individualized care and attention from experienced, caring horse people. You’ll see in the photos below that they are still early in the recovery process, but the horses—now named Bella, Charley, Mocha, Quincey and Sisco—are getting all the help they need. (Viewer discretion is advised – photo gallery below.)
The Case Continues
The case is still making its way through the criminal justice system. The horses’ owners were charged on Feb. 5 with four misdemeanor counts of Animal Neglect in the Second Degree and one felony count of Animal Neglect in the First Degree. OHS will provide updates on the case when we can.
In Oregon, the crime of animal neglect is upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony if the offense is committed in the immediate presence of a minor child. OHS played an instrumental part in encouraging the Oregon Legislature to adopt the minor child addition to the neglect statutes in Aug. 2013. More about Oregon animal cruelty statutes can be found here.
More to Come
Bella, Charley, Mocha, Quincey, and Sisco are on the road to recovery thanks to the citizens who saw they needed help and spoke up for them. If you witness or suspect animal cruelty or neglect, you can help OHS rescue animals by filing a report here.
As this case is still open, we cannot yet share more details, but will provide updates on the horses’ progress when we can. The horses are not yet ready for adoption, but when they are they will be listed on our website here.
Kat (pictured at left), the lone feline in this case, has already been adopted to a loving new home.
—Contributed by John Hopkinson, Investigations Legal Intern & Veronica Broadley, Investigations Coordinator
Gallery of Images
Warning: Images may be disturbing or graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.
More Resources & Information
OHS Humane Special Agents are commissioned by the Oregon State Police and have full police power to enforce animal cruelty and neglect laws throughout the state. They receive no tax dollars and are entirely supported through donations to OHS.
If you see something, please say something. Report cruelty online here »
What constitutes cruelty or neglect in Oregon? More information »
FAQ: Open cases are confidential, so as with an open police investigation, you will not receive updates on a report you file. The OHS Investigations team does take all reports into account.