Michigan Newspaper Points at Obama’s BLM for Ultimate Reason Horses Suffered
“Once majestic, free Twin Peaks wild horses suffered from not only the BLM’s hellish helicopter stampedes but were sold on the internet for $25 bucks and shipped across the U.S. in a bad business deal gone south with, of course, the horses paying the ultimate price. No intervention or help from the BLM in this despicable case, but the word is out on their failure.” ~ R.T. Fitch
The story of an Allegan County woman accused of starving a herd of mustangs she had shipped to Michigan last winter presents a vexing question.
As Gazette staff writer Rosemary Parker reported, it all started when a horse owner spotted a deal on the Internet. The woman said she paid $25 a head for 29 horses that were shipped to her in February; her plan was to turn them around to new adoptive homes, and to apply the donations she received for the horses — up to $150 — to an ongoing program to help the mustangs.
But after the animals arrived — wild, in poor condition and stressed from the long trip — most of the prospective adoptive owners backed out, some even though they had paid for the animals in advance.
The situation got progressively worse since the woman couldn’t keep up with maintaining the herd and the condition of the animals deteriorated; local officials started receiving complaints.
What appears to have been a philanthropic act to do good for these wild horses was, in reality, a business proposition that went awry.
But, no matter how it’s viewed, one part of the story that is troubling is the inability of government to act on behalf of the people — and these poor animals — to effectively correct the situation.
The refusal of the Allegan County prosecutor to bring charges against the woman prompted a backlash from horse lovers across the country. But we can’t blame the man. What’s he going to do? Take on the care and feeding of a starving and ill-kempt herd of wild horses?
The remark from county Undersheriff Jim Hull summed up the situation with blunt honesty: “We only do what we have to do right now. There’s no other way to do it. Everyone’s doing three times the work they used to. That’s government in a nutshell.”
And, right now, the sheriff’s department, like every other part of government, is aggressively looking to save money. Taking on the care and feeding of a herd of starving horses is not an inexpensive proposition. Hull said Allegan County has avoided seizing livestock since they ended up covering the care of a herd of pigs and some horses and ended up spending between $20,000 and $30,000 as the case against the owners wound its way through the courts.
“Once you seize horses, you are 100-percent responsible” for feeding and housing them, as well as seeking necessary veterinary care, Hull said. “This isn’t fair to the taxpayers of Allegan County” to take on such a huge burden because of one person’s bad judgment.
Hull makes a good point. And we don’t disagree with the prosecutor’s decision to protect local taxpayers by not opening the county up to the responsibility and cost of caring for a bunch of wild horses.
The problem here lies with a higher power — and we’re not talking about the divine.
Appropriate regulatory protections at the state level could have prevented such an ill-advised undertaking. After all, bringing a herd of wild mustangs into Michigan is no small undertaking.
These old horses were the property of the federal government, which was looking to unload them at a low, low price. When someone in the state of Michigan falls prey to such a deal, and the deal goes sour, it seems only fair that the federal government should bear responsibility for that property — if for no other reason than the sake of those poor horses.
Now here’s an opportunity for a smart state lawmaker to step in and work with knowledgeable groups to develop specific requirements that guard against individuals, well-intentioned or otherwise, bringing large numbers of livestock in to the state without sufficient means to provide for them.
And here’s a requirement upon which the state should insist: Ownership of the property involved must revert back to the federal government whenever these deals fall through.
If such rules were in place, we wouldn’t have had 29 wild mustangs in trouble in Allegan County and taxpayers there faced with the responsibility of paying to rescue them or letting them die.
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