Equine Rescue

South Dakota Reaches Settlement Transferring Control of 520 ISPMB at-risk Horses to Fleet of Angels; Public’s Help Needed in Massive Rescue Operation

Source: Fleet of Angels

“The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history…”

SD Horses South Dakota state’s attorneys have reached a settlement agreement with the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros that will transfer full control of 520 horses to Fleet of Angels, an equine welfare-related not for profit organization. After 810 horses were originally impounded on Oct. 11, 2016 by the court in Ziebach and Dewey Counties, a Fleet of Angels emergency event team- in a heroic effort headed by Palomino Armstrong facilitated the adoptions of over 270 horses that were transported from the ISPMB location in SD to new homes by Christmas, in spite of multiple challenging circumstances including blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and logistical limitations.

The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history by allowing the wild horses to be placed in safe homes rather than sold at auction, where they could have fallen into the hands of kill buyers who would transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

State’s attorneys in Ziebach and Dewey Counties on Jan. 5 filed a motion requesting that the management and placement of the horses be turned over to a suitable caretaker. Fleet of Angels, an organization that provides emergency assistance and transportation to at-risk equines in the United States and Canada, was asked by SD state’s attorneys to assume that role. Fleet of Angels has received a large number of applications for the 520 horses included in the settlement agreement.  The horses will be placed in approved homes, sanctuaries and rescues as soon as transportation can be arranged.  The organization’s goal is to have every horse in its new home within 60 days, after most of them are moved to a facility in Colorado that will offer a better climate, safer and better loading options, and more suitable conditions for the effort.

Fleet of Angels’ executive director Elaine Nash, who is spearheading the effort said, “After almost four months of working nearly around the clock to get these horses out of an extremely cold and inhospitable environment, it’s nice to now have the freedom to relocate them to a much more suitable adoption hub. We are preparing to relocate the horses to a facility where each horse can be properly vetted and readied for their adopters. or one of the participating Fleet of Angels transporters to pick them up and take them to safe, new homes.  When we say ‘Teamwork works’, we mean it!  Without the efforts of the many concerned people who are helping with this mission in a variety of ways, a massive emergency rescue like this could never be possible.”

Return to Freedom, an organization known nationally for its work with wild horses, has also played a vital role in providing solutions that averted an auction scheduled for Dec. 20, when where many of the horses likely would have been lost to the slaughter pipeline.

“RTF will continue to partner with Fleet of Angels and other Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members and partners to do what we can to facilitate the responsible placement of stallions, bonded horses and whole herds when possible,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

The Humane Society of the United States, the Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, and another national equine welfare organization generously contributed toward a fund to cover what the counties expended in feeding and caring of the horses since October, when state and local authorities impounded the 810 ISPMB wild horses following a finding of neglect. Their contributions made it possible to prevent the horses from going to auction.

The health of the wild horses varies. While some are in good condition, many are underweight.  Some also suffer from blindness or vision impairment.

Fleet of Angels and its partners, Return to Freedom and the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance members need the public’s support to pay for veterinary and farrier care, feed and transportation. Feed costs alone are $40,000 per month. That and other expenses will continue to mount — making donations absolutely critical to successfully getting these horses adopted to new homes.

The Fleet of Angels team has nicknamed the 520 horses that will be heading to new homes, ‘The Hallelujah Horses’.

For more background information, please click here [link to previous press release]

How the public can help

Feed and Care Fund: The public can support the wild horses while adoptions continue by donating to a fund created to for feed, veterinary care, and all other costs related the lifesaving mission for the ISPMP horses by donating to the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance.

Adopt:  Over 200 people have applied to adopt two or more of these special horses. However, Fleet of Angels and partners are hoping to get more of the horses adopted in family bands, larger groups and herds.  Anyone who is interested in adopting some of these horses in larger bonded groups please contact: Fleet of Angels at HoldYourHorses@aol.com or on the ISPMB Horses / Emergency Adoption Mission page on Facebook.

Transport:  (Update: 1-28-2017) To reduce travel distances for some of the horses and to reduce costs for adopters, all previously approved adopters who live in northern states, and transporters who cover that part of the country are encouraged to connect ASAP to make arrangements to have horses picked up from their current SD location before all the herds are moved to the new adoption hub in Colorado.  All other adopters are welcome to start working toward having their horses transported from western Colorado soon.  The exact location of the new adoption hub will be provided within a few days.

All approved adopters seeking discount transportation through Fleet of Angels can submit a Request for Transport Quotes at http://www.FleetOfAngels.org,  so transporters in their areas can reach out to them.  Adopters are also encouraged to use FOA’s Map of Angels and Directory, as well as the org’s networking page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FleetOfAngels/  to make their transport needs known to FOA transporters.


19 replies »

  1. This is as close to a miracle as it gets! The people who are on the ground doing this in horrific weather – taking chances working with horses that have never been handled – driving long distances in truly unsafe conditions? They sure are Angels! I hope that everyone who reads this blog will attempt to help this effort in every way.


  2. Finally! This is incredible news!!! Such beautiful and LUCKY horses!!!

    To all the kind people who fought so hard, for so long, in order to make this rescue happen, you are all angels. Thank you!!!

    I cannot take on another one but will make a donation to help with costs 🙂


  3. We need to help Elaine Nash and the Fleet of Angels Network by SHARING this information far and wide and GETTING MORE MEDIA EXPOSURE for this effort. We are going to need support from the general public to help make this entire rescue happen. This is an animal and human interest story that can be covered in any area where there are people who are helping through adoption, transportation and networking for these horses and burros! IF YOU ARE INVOLVED CALL YOUR LOCAL PAPER OR NEWS CHANNEL AND LET THEM KNOW you are participating in the largest horse rescue in U.S. history!


  4. Okay I got a question! The past several days I continuously am seeing sponsored messages from ISPMB on my newsfeed begging donations. The other day there was supposedly an article from a man…claiming how we should be donating DIRECTLY to ISPMB…that any and all donations haven’t made it to them.

    Scam artists at work? Or is that Facebook being glitchy again? Of course, I didn’t donate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margaret, I saw that on the ISPMB FB page, from a Mr. Cox, but of course nothing there or on their website about what is really happening, or why.

      I haven’t located the actual agreement referenced in this article but other sources have mentioned ISPMB is being allowed to keep 20 horses under an 18 month sort of probationary period, so they will of course still have to fundraise to feed even those. I wonder if KS will just be handed 20 out of the pen like everyone else, or if she will be allowed to cherry pick which horses remain under her questionable care. I remain hopeful their entire operation will be reviewed and audited to protect the public as well as the horses, not to mention their own integrity. If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, and by being privileged with nonprofit status they are accountable to more than themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I also noticed that on the ISPMB page. Nothing mentioned about how the horses were in the counties custody during that entire time. I am not suprised by Mr. Cox’s continual support for KS and ISPMB considering he is not a credible source of information. Donations should go to those directly providing the services and care, the horses finally deserve.


      • Shelly, if one takes a cynical view, ISPMB just pulled off a great scam on American taxpayers. They got rid of an enormous liability they could not manage, got others to foot the bill (and bills), have not been held to any legal account, and have evidently been handed permission to continue to allow horses to breed or double in population on their facility.

        Best of all, their overgrazed land might now be able to support so few horses, and they will of course be allowed to keep soliciting funds from unsuspecting taxpayers who simply love horses. By these actions and their failure to admit mistakes they have inexcusably tarnished other honorable nonprofits.

        Never mind the voices of the dead horses, former employees, complete absence of truth about this on their FB and website pages, and the massive nationwide rescue efforts of others, this is a public charity which evidently can do no wrong, despite the absolute silence of their Board of Directors or the IRS in this mess.

        Hard to say this but at least the BLM and USFS have to be held to some degree of accountability which is completely missing here. The American taxpayers and these hapless horses deserved much better than this.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I cant send an attachment but I can copy the article for you…….

      LANTRY | The fate of endangered wild horses in north-central South Dakota has been resolved with a settlement allowing an embattled nonprofit organization to keep 20 horses with the 520 others transferred to a new owner and put up for adoption.

      The settlement agreement forestalled a two-day hearing last week on a motion by state and local authorities to seize all the horses from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros.

      The horses had been impounded at the society’s small and overgrazed ranch near Lantry since October, where they were being cared for by local authorities after a state-employed veterinarian determined the horses had been neglected.

      The settlement prohibits the society from allowing its 20-horse herd to grow beyond 40 horses during the next five years and says the horses will be seized if that happens. Among other conditions, the settlement requires the society to undergo, for the next 18 months, quarterly veterinary inspections and other inspections as scheduled by the sheriffs of Dewey and Ziebach counties (the county line is straddled by the society’s ranch), and to pay the counties a total of $10,000.

      The 520 horses taken from the society’s ownership will be transferred to the ownership of Fleet of Angels, a Colorado-based nonprofit that provides crisis management and transportation for horse-related emergencies in the United States and Canada.

      Fleet of Angels and another nonprofit, Return to Freedom, of California, said in a joint release they would work to find suitable placements for the horses at approved homes, sanctuaries and rescue facilities.

      “The settlement sets the stage for one of the largest known equine rescue and adoption efforts in U.S. history,” the release said.

      The agreement allows the rescue organizations to keep the horses at the society’s ranch for up to 60 days while conducting the adoption campaign. The release from the rescue groups also said they may relocate their 520 horses “to a more suitable adoption hub.”

      When the horses were impounded in October, they numbered 810. Some were thin and others had various physical ailments, and a former society employee alleged that some horses had died of starvation-related causes while the cash-strapped society struggled to acquire hay.

      Fleet of Angels stepped in to arrange adoptions of 270 of the horses in the past few months, leaving 540 whose fates were determined by the settlement agreement.

      Fleet of Angels and Return to Freedom reported that the current health of the horses varies from good to underweight, and some suffer from blindness or vision impairment.

      The rescue groups said they face feed costs of $40,000 per month for the 520 horses, and additional costs are anticipated for veterinary care, hoof care and transportation.

      Dewey and Ziebach counties predict their impounding-related costs from the past few months will reach $200,000 when all the bills are tallied, but Dewey County State’s Attorney Steven Aberle said the counties will be reimbursed for most or all of those expenses.

      Through Dec. 29, the counties had spent $156,735.53 but had been reimbursed $52,000 by the society, $11,714.14 by donations from the public and $15,000 by a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, leaving $78,021.39 yet to be reimbursed. Aberle said Fleet of Angels agreed to pay that amount.

      The counties are still compiling costs incurred since Dec. 29. Aberle said the $10,000 paid by the society as part of the settlement will be applied to those bills, and Fleet of Angels has agreed to pay the rest.

      Fleet of Angels reported that the Humane Society of the United States, the Griffin-Sofel Equine Rescue Foundation and “another national equine welfare organization,” which was not identified in the release, contributed money to reimburse the counties.

      “Without the efforts of the many concerned people who are helping with this mission in a variety of ways, a massive emergency rescue like this could never be possible,” Elaine Nash, executive director of Fleet of Angels, said in the release.

      The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros also issued a release, summarizing some provisions of the settlement. One provision requires that “none of the parties to this action will make disparaging remarks, comments or statements about another party.”

      Aberle, the Dewey County state’s attorney, said he is “very pleased” with the settlement and called it positive for everyone involved – the rescue groups, which saved the horses from being auctioned and potentially sold to foreign slaughter plants; the society, which gets to keep some horses; and the counties, which will recoup their costs.

      The society and its president, Karen Sussman, who lives at the ranch, still face other difficulties including some pending lawsuits from hay suppliers.

      In one of those suits, a judge ordered $90,004.95 to be released from a society bank account Jan. 5 after the Spearfish-based plaintiff, who is owed money for hay deliveries, had legally garnished the account.

      In another suit, a court clerk issued issued a document known as an “execution” Jan. 4, directing the sheriff of Dewey County to collect $30,322.96 that the society still owes to a Lantry hay supplier after the supplier had won a judgment against the society in May.

      Donations, adoptive homes sought

      Donations and adoptive homes are needed for 520 wild horses rescued in north-central South Dakota.

      Fleet of Angels and its partners would like to keep as many family bands, larger groups and herds of horses intact as possible. Anyone interested in adopting such a group of horses is encouraged to email Fleet of Angels at HoldYourHorses@aol.com or go to the ISPMB Horses/Emergency Adoption Mission page on Facebook.

      Donations to help feed and care for the 520 horses during the adoption effort may be directed to the Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance, either online at wildhorsesanctuaryalliance.org or by mail to The Animals Voice, 1692 Mangrove Ave. #276, Chico, CA 95926.

      I hope this helps………..


  5. I tried to post this on Rapid City Journal. It does pertain to our captured Wild Horses that have been taken to South Dakota, but they would not publish it. My comment was still under moderation the last time I looked.

    Castrated, Captive, Former Wild Horses Now Roam Power Ball Winner’s Land

    “The BLM’s propaganda war against wild horses and burros continues in the unedited article below. It contains inaccurate numbers, hints on sending the horses to slaughter AND the livestock company “Spur Livestock” who managed this move were caught by Wild Horse Freedom Federation selling wild horses to known kill buyers, click (HERE…. https://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/01/22/breaking-news-wild-horses-sold-to-kill-buyer-by-blm-contractor/) which the Feds swiftly swept under the carpet.

    On Tuesday, officials of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management showed off the roughly 50 square miles of grassland where a herd of 917 newly transferred wild horses will graze for years to come.
    The land is about 25 miles east of Newell, or about 75 miles northeast of Rapid City. The property is owned by Neil Wanless of South Dakota, who bought it with the proceeds of a $232 million Powerball jackpot he won in 2009 (he opted for a lump-sum payment and took home $89 million after taxes.)

    Wanless, who is preternaturally averse to media attention, did not attend the tour that was staged for the media Tuesday. His ranch manager, Adam Karrels, attended in his stead.
    “He likes his privacy,” Karrels said.

    Wanless’ privacy is further protected by his private arrangement with Spur Livestock LLC, which has a registered address in Midland and is owned by South Dakota ranchers Jim Reeves and Lyle Anderson. The government pays Spur Livestock a varying rate of around $2 per head, per day, to ensure that the horses are fed, watered and kept relatively wild and free-roaming. Spur Livestock, in turn, has a private deal with Wanless to keep the horses on his land.



  6. Louie C. and IcySpots – the most important thing about the Rapid City Journal article was that they had the pdf’s of the signed agreement between the State of SD and ISPMB. Interesting about no criminal charges ISPMB………….I wonder if that was a bargaining chip???? must have been. I wonder if any complaint was sent to the Better Business Bureau? and if BBB has any control of compliance with non-profits?


  7. MORE info about money for the Lantry horses in today’s Rapid City Journal:

    Matching donations sought for wild horses from Lantry
    Journal staff 4 hrs ago 0
    The Griffin-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation has pledged $50,000 in matching funds through The Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance to support the rescue of 520 wild horses near Lantry.

    Those interested in donating should log on to wildhorsesanctuaryalliance.org.

    Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox

    Sign Up!

    About $250,000 is needed to pay for the care and transport of the horses, which were impounded by local and state authorities in October after a finding of neglect by the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros. Last month, ownership of the horses was transferred to Colorado-based nonprofit Fleet of Angels.

    Another nonprofit, Return to Freedom, is joining with Fleet of Angels and other individuals and groups to secure a new staging area with adequate facilities to safely treat and prepare the horses for adoption and transport.

    Wish I had MORE money !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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