It has been a long and difficult journey for the 907 horses that the State Attorneys in South Dakota found to be suffering from serious neglect last October. From freezing temperatures and soupy mud, all of the unadopted horses healthy enough to make the journey have been relocated to a safe staging area in Colorado. (or to a new adoptive home.) We’ve come so far and we couldn’t have done it without you!
By Elaine Nash
ISPMB is circulating a rumor that Fleet of Angel and our partner organizations are trying to take the horses away from ISPMB. As we have said before, we have made no effort whatsoever to take the horses from ISPMB, and we don’t plan to. Our role in this massive mission is to protect the ISPMB horses from auction and probably slaughter IF the judge does remove them from ISPMB. It’s not fun in any way, it’s not easy in any way, and it’s not profitable for us to be involved in this effort. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
In order to stop the auction of the horses that was scheduled for Dec. 20, we had to pay the hay bill that the counties, which was approximately $78,000.00. We did that. We also had to agree to cover the cost of hay and care going forward. We agreed to do that. We also had to agree to take the horses IF the judge ruled that ISPMB could not keep the horses, and we have also agreed to do that.
Fleet of Angels and our associates do NOT ‘want’ the horses. What we do want is to do whatever we can to prevent any of the ISPMB horses from suffering or dying IF they are taken from ISPMB because of their inability to meet the requirements laid out in the court order that turned responsibility for feeding and caring of the horses over the the two SD counties the ISPMB is in. It is a massive commitment to accept and care for these horses while they’re being adopted and transported, and we’d love to not need to- but we may need to, in order to save them.
We do not get involved in efforts to remove horses from anyone, but we do try our best to provide a safety net for horses that are at-risk of suffering or going to slaughter if they are in need of homes. In this case, we are willing to be the safety net for the ISPMB horses for long enough to allow their adopters to arrange for transportation for them to new homes- IF they are no longer owned by ISPMB, and need homes to go to.
The hearing on this matter is scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 27. If asked by the judge to take on Phase II of this mission, we will rely on you to help us help these horses. Thank you all for your support in this effort.
Information supplied by ISPMB HORSES / EMERGENCY ADOPTION MISSION
“The horses impounded from the ISPMB was scheduled for December 20, 2016, at the Faith Livestock Auction in Faith, South Dakota. That sale has been postponed.
Horse welfare organization Fleet of Angels, which has been conducting an adoption and assistance campaign with the ISPMB since mid-October, will continue its adoption efforts. Adopters who applied to adopt horses befor December 1 are encouraged to arrange to have their horses picked up by December 18, or after the holidays when gathering, sorting and loading assistance will be resumed. Adopters should contact Fleet of Angels at HoldYourHorses@AOL.com”
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This is still a very fluid situation, and the horses are NOT all safe yet. For now, though, the auction is off, and we are able to continue with the adoption program. We’ll keep providing updates as available, while we continue to do all we can to get these horses to safe homes before it is again- too late. ~ Elaine Nash
- Rapid City Journal as published on
UPDATE: Auction Canceled
Aberle said a meeting was scheduled Thursday with ISPMB President Karen Sussman, but she did not show up and has not responded to the proposal.
A deal that would have stopped the auction of hundreds of wild horses in north-central South Dakota has been accepted by all parties except the leader of the troubled sanctuary where the horses reside, according to an attorney who is participating in the talks.
Dewey County State’s Attorney Steve Aberle said a consortium of concerned organizations has offered to reimburse Dewey and Ziebach counties for the costs of caring for the horses since October, and to assume the care and feeding of the horses while trying to find new homes for them through adoptions.
Aberle, who said the consortium members wish to remain confidential, said county officials and the state Animal Industry Board have agreed to the deal, but the owner of the horses, the nonprofit International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, has not.
Unless Sussman accepts the deal soon, Aberle said, the estimated 550 to 650 horses that are impounded at the ISPMB ranch on the Dewey-Ziebach county line near Lantry could be put up for sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Faith Livestock. Wild-horse advocates fear that buyers for foreign slaughter plants will be among the bidders.
Aberle told the Journal in a phone interview Monday that “it would be very unfortunate” if the auction took place. “But it would be one person and one person alone who would prevent that from happening, and that is Karen Sussman, president of the ISPMB,” he added.
Phone messages left Tuesday morning for Sussman and the ISPMB’s professional fundraiser, Howard Paley — who has spoken recently on the organization’s behalf — were not immediately returned.
Sussman lives at the ISPMB ranch. After becoming the society president in the 1990s, she moved the organization from Arizona to South Dakota and changed its focus from advocacy and lobbying to the rescue and ownership of threatened wild horses.
When authorities stepped in to impound the ISPMB’s multiple herds at the ranch and take over the care and feeding of the animals in October, they counted 810 horses on the ranch’s scant and overgrazed 665 acres. The court-ordered impounding, which came with Sussman’s reluctant agreement, followed a finding of neglect by a state-employed veterinarian and allegations from a former ISPMB employee that some horses had died of starvation-related causes.
Since the beginning of the impounding, Sussman has parted with about 200 horses through adoptions or private sales, Aberle said. Authorities limited private adoptions and sales to 270 head because the counties wanted to retain some horses as collateral against the costs of the impounding.
The ISPMB was also given the opportunity to get some horses back by producing evidence of enough funding or feed for 18 months of operations. The continuing lack of such evidence led authorities to schedule the auction. The proceeds would go first to the counties to cover their costs, and then to the ISPMB.
The October impounding order put the horses under the care of county officials but left legal ownership and responsibility for adoption efforts with the ISPMB. Some critics have assailed county and state authorities for not seizing ownership of the horses and taking control of the adoptions, but Aberle has avoided such an action because he is concerned that it could be considered an illegal seizure of property.
There are provisions in state laws and administrative rules, though, that allow for a transfer of ownership in cases involving impounded animals. The relevant administrative rule of the state Animal Industry Board says the board may seek a court order to transfer ownership of the impounded animals to a suitable caretaker or facility.
Aberle said options to avert the auction will continue to be considered, but the auction remained scheduled as of Tuesday evening.
One of the groups that have been publicly active in seeking better homes for the horses is The Humane Society of the United States.
Earlier this month, the South Dakota office of the HSUS issued a long written statement explaining that the organization previously provided assistance to the ISPMB but ended that assistance “when ISPMB leaders failed to follow our recommendations and take action necessary to manage population growth.”
Since the impounding, the HSUS statement said, the organization has been trying to help facilitate adoptions of ISPMB horses in cooperation with Fleet of Angels, a nonprofit network of trailer owners who provide transportation and assistance for at-risk horses in the United States and Canada.
Like Aberle, the HSUS pinned the blame for the impending auction on Sussman.
“The HSUS is strongly opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption,” the organization’s statement said, “and we are deeply saddened that Ms. Sussman’s choices have put the horses at risk of being purchased at auction by kill buyers.”
Published by Isabel Dakotan Community Newspaper
Exclusive: This 10-page document represents the most recent draft of a management plan that was primarily dictated by the SD Animal Industry Board and Dewey and Ziebach Counties following the rejection of a first draft from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and president Karen Sussman.
Sussman and ISPMB were declared earlier this week to be in default of court-ordered stipulations for failing to meet financial requirements, therefore this document is largely void. However, it does show the financial and operational regulations that would have been imposed at the ISPMB sanctuary had they raised adequate funds to keep any horses.
UPDATE: APPLICATIONS RECEIVED AFTER MIDNIGHT ON NOV. 30 CAN NOT BE APPROVED UNDER THE CURRENT COURT ORDER. ONLY APPLY NOW IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN ADOPTING ‘IF’ MORE HORSES BECOME AVAILABLE. FOA volunteers are working as hard and fast as possible to gather and sort horses. Horses applied for first, as well as adopters who already have transportation arranged will be facilitated in the order that they arrive. Transporters may be asked to assist with gathering, sorting, and loading horses, regardless of weather. If you are unable to assist, please let Palomino Armstrong know that you won’t be able to assist before arriving. Thanks, everyone! Teamwork works!
ISMB HORSE EMERGENCY ADOPTION CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW
and HOW TO ADOPT
This campaign’s purpose is to help facilitate the adoption (and discount transporting if needed) of wild horses that belong to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in Lantry, SD, and whose care is currently being managed by SD State Attorney Steve Aberle and the Sheriffs of the two counties in which the sanctuary is located, as the result of a Court order. I am coordinating this adoption effort at the request of Mr. Aberle, and am in contact with Karen Sussman as needed. I am not being paid, nor accepting donations for my assistance in this mission.
The deadline for available horses to be placed was November 30, 2016. Transportation of approved adoptions may continue after that time for a few days.
There are many horses available for adoption, and unless the Court orders otherwise, those not adopted by Nov. 30 will be sold at public auction soon after December 1, with the most likely market at that point being kill buyers.
There are horses available in almost every age range and size. Many of the mares have foals at their sides, and most of the mares that currently have foals are also in foal. As occurs in the wild, some mares have young foals and also an older youngster still at their sides. We would prefer these family groups be adopted together.
Many of the horses at the sanctuary are in good condition. Most or all of the horses will need hooves trimmed and managed to good condition as soon as possible. Some of the horses are underweight, and some have special needs such as advanced age, blindness, or lameness. Most of the extremely underweight horses are of the advanced ages of 20-30+ years old.
A concerned person made it possible for two photographers to travel to SD to take individual photos of as many of the horses being offered for adoption as possible. We are posting many of those photos on this page. Those photos need to be seen primarily as examples of horses available, as it is difficult- and often impossible, to ‘fill orders’ of specific horses due to the logistical challenges at the facility. Large open pastures with no corral or gathering systems often makes selecting, gathering, sorting, and loading specific horse a big challenge.
We are asking anyone who is interested in adopting to apply for at least two horses so that each horse will go to a new home with a horse it already knows. Adopters are asked to refrain from requesting horses from different herds if possible. There will be exceptions, of course.
HOW TO ADOPT
NEW DIGITAL ADOPTION APPLICATION FORM!
Click here >> http://tinyurl.com/emergencyadoption
Fill out on phone or computer and submit. No more printing, scanning, or taking photos of apps. Easy, breezy! (Provided for this campaign by Fleet of Angels.)
Adoption contract agreement terms are negotiable, so click No on any terms that you feel are unacceptable. THE AGREEMENT TO PROTECT THE HORSES FROM SLAUGHTER IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. Your applications will be reviewed ASAP, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as we can. Please understand that we are incredibly busy, so feel free to nudge us if you don’t hear back soon.
At this time, there is no adoption fee for most of the horses. Health certificates, brand inspections, and an express Coggins test can all be arranged for at veterinary clinics in the area, with Coggins certificate, health certificate, and brand inspection available within approx. two hours.
For information on adoption approval status and for details on specific horses, please contact Barbara Rasmussen, the Fleet of Angels representative who’s on site it the ISPMB location. https://www.facebook.com/barbara.murphyrasmussen?fref=ts
I’m also working on possible adoption opportunities for large groups of horses, and am exploring the adoption of whole herds by some parties who are interested in taking them to large properties so the herds can live out their lives together.
TRANSPORTATION FOR ADOPTED HORSES
Fleet of Angels transporters will assist when possible. All FOA transporters assist with Fleet of Angels missions for discount rates. Some trips may be networked into groups going to common areas for the benefit of both transporters and adopters. Those efforts will take place on the Fleet of Angels networking page, and will be up to adopters and transporters to work out together. ALL adopters seeking transportation through Fleet of Angels will be required to submit a Request for Assistance form on Fleet of Angels’ website (below). Most answers to questions about Fleet of Angels and how we work can be found on our website.
COMPASSION ADOPTIONS (Pending)
THIS IS ONLY A POSSIBILITY. NO DEFINITE AGREEMENT HAS BEEN REACHED.
I am in discussions with the State Attorney Aberle regarding the horses that may prove to be un-adoptable during the small time frame that’s been allowed by the Court. There is a chance that they may be euthanized humanely, rather than sold for slaughter. To achieve that change from selling at auction (undoubtedly to kill buyers) as is stipulated in the current court order, a compassion adoption fee of $100-150 would have to be paid for each horse that is to be euthanized. The reason for this is that the two involved counties are two of the poorest in the nation, and are spending a significant amount of their budget on hay for the ISPMB horses, personnel, equipment, etc. They anticipate receiving some reimbursement of their outlay by selling the un-adoptable horses at auction. If you are interested in assisting with the funding of compassion adoptions, please email me at HoldYourHorses@aol.com with your name and the amount you’re willing to contribute, so I can compile names and amounts to show the Attorney that advocates for the horses want to see this happen. I have no more information about this option at this time. Please don’t write me with questions unless you’re planning to contribute to the fund. I won’t be able to answer.
All that matters right now is getting the horses into good homes where they can be well cared for, for the rest of their lives. Thank you SO much to all the people who are willing to step up and work in positive ways on behalf of the ISPMB mustangs. Any negative, hostile, or threatening messages that include personal attacks against Karen Sussman, the State’s Attorney, the Sheriffs, ISPMB employees, ex-employees, me, or my team members will be deleted. Please refrain from commentary about this situation, what occurred, or how. There is considerable information that has not been made public, so the opinions of onlookers are made absent of all the facts and therefore not at all helpful to this effort.
Please work as independently as you can, find answers to your questions on ISPMB and FOA websites, fill out the proper forms, and network with each other as much as possible. My Fb friend list is at maximum number, so I’m sorry, but I can’t ‘friend’ everyone who is sending requests. I will try to check the Message Request box for non-friend messages frequently. If you have any new, factual information about this ongoing case, please contact Steve Aberle, the State’s Attorney. He probably will not be able to respond, unless he has questions.
Each horse will have to have a current Coggins, health certificate, and brand inspection to leave SD. It is not usually possible to get those while the horse is at ISPMB. Below are two vets- one in each direction of ISPMB, that can help you inexpensively and promptly. Takes about two hours to get express Coggins, which are available at both of these vet clinics:
(Two known providers of Express Coggins service in SD. There may be others.)
EAST BOUND FROM ISPMB
Howard Veterinary Clinic (Approx. 230 miles)
William Howard, DVM
Watertown, SD 57201
Phone: (605) 882-4188
Express Coggins, $40.00 per horse
Health Certificate: $35.00 (per destination)
Make appointment for no later than 4:00 pm for two horses, no later than 3:00 pm for four horses per trailer
Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
WEST BOUND FROM ISPMB
Northern Hills Veterinary Clinic (Approx. 130 miles)
751 Pine View Dr
Sturgis, SD 57785
Express Coggins: $50.00
Health Certificate: $25.00
Make appointments no later than 3:00 if possible. Let front desk know how many horses when making appointment.
Mon: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1.30 PM – 6:00 PM
Tues: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Thurs-Fri: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
SD BRAND INSPECTORS:
Link to listing of SD brand inspectors:
SD brand inspection laws:
Donations for hay are VERY important, since the main reason for the short window of opportunity for adopters is based on the counties anticipated hay costs. The more funds that are donated, the longer we may be given to find homes for these horses.
Donations for hay are being accepted by Dewey County, and by ISPMB.
Please do not send donations to Fleet of Angels for this campaign.
Dewey County ISPMB Horse Fund donations information:
Checks are to be made payable to ‘Dewey County’ and write ‘ISPMB Horse Fund’ in memo line.
Dewey County Auditor
PO Box 277
Timber Lake, SD 57656-0277
To pay by credit card (a fee will be charged):
Call Dewey County Treasurer’s Office
Questions? Call Dewey County Auditor:
Fleet of Angels (Transportation network for at-risk equines)
Attorney for State of South Dakota
Dewey County Sheriff
Please be positive, proactive, and adopt horses ASAP if you can!
Thank you, everyone!
Information supplied by Dewey County Sheriff’s Department
“The States Attorney has approved for the adoption applications that have been approved by ISPMB to continue to be loaded out for the next week or so…”
As of 530 PM 12-01-16 the Counties have not been repaid and no monies have been shown for the ISPMB 18 month plan. Therefore an auction for the horses is being setup.
The States Attorney has approved for the adoption applications that have been approved by ISPMB to continue to be loaded out for the next week or so. The end date has not been set for this at this time due to weather, etc.
However there is a limit for the number of horses that can be adopted out from the ISPMB. The stipulation states that no more than 1/3 of the horses could be adopted out or (based on 810 horses) 270 horses. Also no more than 20 per person without prior consent of the counties.
If you have been approved and get the horses loaded out in the next week, now would be the time to get it done. Weather is suppose to improve through the weekend, and then turn colder again next week.
There are some other options still being looked at, but there is little time and hope left at this point.
Our best guess for the date on the sale will be around the 19th of Dec at Phillip Livestock in Phillip SD. However this has not been set yet and when it does become available I will post it here.
If you do not get your horses from the ISPMB then the next best option would be to buy them at the sale and save them there.
Statement from the Humane Society of the United States – South Dakota
Statement Regarding the Situation at International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) in Landry SD
For several years, the HSUS invested time and financial resources in population control solutions at ISPMB by both providing teams annually to administer the Porcine Zona Pellucida fertility control drug, and hay donations. During these several years, HSUS staff counseled Karen Sussman that her herds were too big to be supported on the land she had. Even when ISPMB chose to discontinue the fertility control program, HSUS offered herd population management suggestions, and options for onsite gelding. Further, HSUS introduced ISPMB to Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, which offers support, certification, and accreditation to animal sanctuaries and rescues around the world.
Unfortunately, in 2012 HSUS was forced to cut ties when ISPMB leaders failed to follow our recommendations and take action necessary to manage population growth. While Ms. Sussman continued to plead for assistance to feed her growing herds she repeatedly rejected any assistance to stabilize it. HSUS determined that continuing to assist Ms. Sussman would only lead to more animals in her care and greater suffering.
In April 2016, upon receiving a cruelty complaint about worsening conditions at ISPMB, our South Dakota State Director, Darci Adams, traveled to the ISPMB facility and, based on her observations, contacted the South Dakota Animal Industry Board’s State Veterinarian directly to request a check on the animals’ condition. At that time, the State Veterinarian replied to HSUS that they were aware of the situation and local law enforcement was driving by daily. The HSUS does not have law enforcement authority, so we directed those with complaints and concerns to the SD Animal Industry Board’s State Veterinarian and the Dewey and Ziebach County Sheriff Departments, as they are the agencies with ultimate authority in this matter.
In October 2016, law enforcement took action after an ISPMB employee posted photos to social media of sick and starving horses – including nearly 30 animals that had died – at ISPMB. The State’s Attorneys in Dewey and Ziebach counties entered into an agreement with ISPMB whereby ISPMB agreed to the voluntary impoundment of the horses on ISPMB property while the case was investigated. According to this agreement, until December 1st, ISPMB would reduce the population through voluntary adoptions. After December 1, 2016, the agreement stated the State would determine how many horses could be allowed to stay at ISPMB and how many would be sold at public auction, with the proceeds from the sale being paid first to the counties to cover the expenses of impoundment, and any remaining proceeds paid to ISPMB.
For the sake of the horses, HSUS and the Homes for Horses Coalition supported this adoption effort. Elaine Nash with Fleet of Angels was asked by the Dewey County State’s Attorney to facilitate adoptions, and HSUS made resources and manpower available to Fleet of Angels to support the adoption efforts. As of late November approximately 125 horses had been adopted.
While the HSUS does not currently have the capacity in its animal care facilities for these additional horses, we are supporting the efforts of reputable wild horse rescue organizations who have offered to take and care for a substantial portion of those horses. We remain hopeful that Ms. Sussman will allow the transfer of her horses to these facilities.
Under its agreement with the local authorities, ISPMB could be allowed to maintain horses after the December 1st deadline. Unfortunately, and despite the urging of The HSUS to the contrary, the state has thus far put no restrictions in place that will prevent ISPMB from continuing to breed animals. Furthermore, it is likely that most of the mares are pregnant and dozens of foals will be born this spring. In other words, regardless of how many horses are adopted and/or dispersed through auction, ISPMB will be allowed to continue to accumulate and breed horses on its property and thus we have reason to expect to be faced with this same tragic situation again at some point in the future.
Therefore, while the adoption efforts are vitally important to the horses currently under ISPMB’s care, their relocation will not solve the underlying organizational issues which perpetuated this cycle of neglect. It is vital that we prevent this situation from occurring again, and that will only happen if ISPMB is required to discontinue the breeding of its horses.
For this reason, HSUS focused its efforts in late November on communicating our concerns to State Authorities and urging them to impose conditions to prevent a recurrence of this situation. Specifically, we have asked the State’s Attorney for both counties and the South Dakota Attorney General to require ISPMB to stop breeding horses. We hope that with such restrictions in place, if allowed to continue to keep any horses, ISPMB will be left with a sustainable non-breeding population of horses.
Pursuant to ISPMB’s agreement with local authorities, on December 1 the unadopted horses at ISPMB were seized by the county. State law requires the horses be sold at public auction because they have value as “livestock” in South Dakota. ISPMB, by and through Karen Sussman, agreed to this stipulation; the counties will receive monies to recoup their impoundment expenses, and the balance of the sale proceeds will go to ISPMB. While law enforcement has agreed to allow pending adoptions for another 260 horses to be completed in coming weeks, this leaves another 400 to 500 horses at ISPMB still in peril. The HSUS is aware that reputable wild horse rescue organizations have offered to take and care for a substantial portion of those horses, yet Ms. Sussman has refused to allow that to happen.
The HSUS is strongly opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and we are deeply saddened that Ms. Sussman’s choices have put the horses at risk of being purchased at auction by kill buyers.
Furthermore, The HSUS is disappointed that criminal animal neglect charges were not filed by the authorities in this case. Criminal proceedings could have provided an opportunity for all remaining horses to be forfeited and placed for adoption, and might well have culminated in an order preventing Ms. Sussman from caring for horses in the future, and also preventing any further breeding or acquisition of horses.
We continue to support efforts by the wild horse rescue community to adopt as many horses as possible.
Story by Seth Tupper as published on TheVirginiamn.com
To Help Save These Horses Click (HERE)
The leader of a wild-horse sanctuary in north-central South Dakota is struggling to meet deadlines and conditions for the return of her impounded horses, leaving her vulnerable to the loss of at least some horses at a public auction.
Karen Sussman is the president of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros, which has a small ranch under her supervision near the town of Lantry. Last month, following reports of starving horses and with the society struggling financially and lacking feed for the winter, all 810 of the society’s horses were impounded to be cared for and fed by local authorities.
The court-ordered impounding included conditions and deadlines for Sussman to seek the return of the horses. The first deadline was Oct. 21, when Sussman was expected to submit a comprehensive management plan for the ranch.
“What she submitted was not comprehensive enough in our opinion,” Aberle said. “There were gaps and holes in it, and things that needed to be addressed if any animals are going to be returned.”
Local and state authorities met with Sussman on Nov. 9 to work on the plan, and Aberle said the improved plan is still being put into writing.
The next deadline was Nov. 11, when Sussman was supposed to produce evidence of funding or feed sufficient for 18 months of ranch operations. At the Nov. 9 meeting, Sussman sought and was granted an extension of that deadline until Dec. 1, on the condition that she reimburse Dewey and Ziebach counties — which share a border straddled by the ranch — for the costs of the impounding by Wednesday of this week.
Aberle said the counties were several days late in submitting their $76,000 cost estimate to Sussman, so she was given a grace period until Monday. Meanwhile, she made a partial payment of $30,000 on Wednesday, leaving a balance of $46,000.
In the meantime, Sussman, who has not responded to Journal interview requests, is free to arrange sales or adoptions of horses. She is apparently doing that, to a limited extent. Dewey County Sheriff Les Mayer recently said that about 55 horses had left the ranch.
After the Dec. 1 deadline, Aberle and the other authorities involved with the impounding order will decide whether to return any horses to Sussman’s control, and how many. Any horses that are not returned will be scheduled for sale at a public auction, with the proceeds going to Sussman’s society only after all remaining county costs have been covered.
Though there are no active horse-slaughter plants in the United States, an auction might attract buyers for foreign plants that slaughter horses for human consumption. Buyers could also include individuals and groups committed to protecting wild horses.
Please help these horses: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ISPMB.Adoptable.Horses/
“…Sussman has been emailing supporters and asking them to donate toward a $150,000 fundraising campaign to help return horses to the society’s ranch, which is only 665 acres and is badly overgrazed…”
The sheriff managing a wild-horse sanctuary’s impounded animals in north-central South Dakota said Thursday that horse adoptions must be handled by the embattled sanctuary president, who has apparently received a deadline extension as she tries to get some horses back.
Dewey County Sheriff Les Mayer has been overseeing the care and feeding of 810 horses at the ranch of the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros near Lantry. The horses were impounded at the ranch after a judge’s order on Oct. 7, following a state veterinarian’s finding that the horses were being neglected and allegations by a former ranch employee that some horses were starving to death.
The impounding order included a set of conditions under which the society’s president, Karen Sussman, could seek the return of the horses. She reportedly met an Oct. 21 deadline to draft and deliver a comprehensive ranch management plan, in which she reportedly sought the return of 400 horses to her control, according to Sheriff Mayer.
The impounding order set another deadline of today for Sussman to produce evidence that she has enough funding or feed for the next 18 months. Mayer said that deadline has apparently been extended to Dec. 1 following a meeting this week involving Sussman, the state’s attorneys and a state veterinarian.
Mayer also said the county governments will not lead or participate in the adoption of horses. He previously said he was compiling a list of potential adopters to consult after today’s deadline, when the counties would take over the adoption process. On Thursday, he said that action was the result of his misunderstanding of the terms of the impounding order.
All adoptions will instead go through Sussman, Mayer said, and inquires should be directed to her. He provided her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The local prosecutors and the state Animal Industry Board will meanwhile consider the adequacy of Sussman’s management plan. They will use their judgment of the plan, paired with the extent to which Sussman meets the Dec. 1 deadline to produce 18 months of feed or funding, to determine how many horses to put back in Sussman’s care.
A community of wild-horse enthusiasts around the country has been encouraging adoptions of the horses, largely through the use of social media. Mayer said Sussman has allowed about 55 horses to be adopted so far. Some in the online community have also called for criminal animal neglect charges against Sussman.
Meanwhile, Sussman has been emailing supporters and asking them to donate toward a $150,000 fundraising campaign to help return horses to the society’s ranch, which is only 665 acres and is badly overgrazed.