This month (and actually for January as well since we’re getting such a late start and it is Christmas and all) Snarky Rider is proud to feature Strawberry Mountain Mustangs! They did such a great job for Grace and work very hard not only to rescue horses, but to make sure those who are responsible for the animals suffering are brought to justice. You may remember Darla Clark, SMM’s dedicated and driving force – not to mention outspoken! She crafted her own snarky grumblings a while back and graciously allowed us to feature it on the blog: Helpful tips for communicating with your local rescue.
We performed our customary
interrogation interview and here’s what Darla had to say!
1. You often are called on to give advice to people who are uncertain of how to best approach a possible neglect case. Can you give some generalized guidelines/steps people should follow?
Be aware that things are not always as they may seem. If you’re concerned about a horse, sometimes all it takes to help is for you to remain neutral, keep an open mind, and offer to help. Not every case warrants criminal prosecution. In Oregon, the Oregon Hay Bank is available to assist owners in times of crisis. They must apply and be screened, and it’s one time help, but sometimes we just need to help a neighbor.
If the owner is unwilling to talk to you, or you feel as if you would be in danger by approaching the owner, then start documenting. Make notes about the times of day that you witness no food, no water etc. Take pictures, without trespassing. (If you provide food and water, as tempting as it is, be aware that when an officer does respond, you may be hindering the case.) FILE A COMPLAINT. I can’t tell you how many times I hear complaints about animal control not doing their job, when in actuality, no complaint was ever filed. Yes, you can file an anonymous complaint, but keep in mind, if the officer is unable to locate the horse, or has questions, how can they contact you? If you’re seriously uncomfortable with calling law enforcement, find someone who will. And again, a picture is worth a thousand words.
2.What are your horse’s favorite Christmas carols? Are they Mariah fans?
Mariah? Nah. Sorry. You might hear our group stomping their hooves to a little Nickelback, see them tossing their manes to some 80′s hair band music, but no Mariah. Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban get some big hooves up too. Do they do Christmas carols?
3. What is the most frustrating rescue/neglect/abuse situation that you’ve had to deal with?
Rescue hoarding, by far. One of the most complex issues for any animal control, law enforcement or rescue entity to deal with. So many new rescues are popping up, granted, with a heart of gold, but with no clue what it’s going to take to sustain. Somewhere along the line it becomes “just one more”, and pretty soon the animals need to be rescued from the rescue. Of course large scale seizures are incredibly expensive for any county budget, and no one wants to face the fact that there are often large numbers of animals who may need to be euthanized. It’s an ugly topic, but researchers are gaining ground, and organizations like GFAS are giving the general public a place to go for a sense of security when supporting.
4. Do your horses get a special Christmas treat? Rum and eggnog?
The rum’s for this tired rescuer! The horses get carrots, apples and cookies. We have a great supporter who sends home made cookies from Chicago, but when the package is damaged and leaking powdery substances, we often find ourselves on lockdown inside the post office. Hazardous suspicious materials ya know.
5. What is one law that you’d like to see put into place that you think would truly make a difference for animal welfare?
ONE?! I’m limited to one? Ok, how about the NEXT one? Douglas County Animal Control Officer Lee Bartholomew and ALDF Attorney Stephan Otto have drafted the first Aggravated Neglect statute – and we’d like to see it in the 2013 legislative session. Neglect is a misdemeanor in Oregon, and anymore, that’s just not cutting it. An Aggravated Neglect will address hoarding issues where large numbers of animals must be seized. It will address repeat offenders who move from state to state and county to county. It will address neglect committed in front of a minor child, and it will make all of these a FELONY. Now THAT’s how you will get someone’s attention.
6. What’s on your Christmas wish list?
Sunny skies and 80 degree temps? Breed standards set forth by AQHA? Oh, you were serious?
Gift cards. Always. Gift cards for fuel. Gift cards for feed and supplies from Coastal Farm & Home. Anything to help with expenses. We have no paid staff and rely on our horse community to support what we do. It takes all of you to rescue a horse. We just happen to do the leg work.
A very special congratulations to SMM! They are now the only GFAS rescue and rehabilitation facility in Southern Oregon. For those not familiar with the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries – they provide support to recognized sanctuaries and help them procure funding for the animals. Recognized sanctuaries are held to stringent animal care guidelines, downloadable on their website for those interested.