Starving Horses: “In the absence of food, she began eating the wooden fence around the area where she was confined…”

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on December 12, 2008

Yep, I know, ’tis the season for Xboxes, PlayStations, iPhones, mani-pedi gift certificates and all the other "stuff" that moves around this time of year, thanks to the need to feed the beast that is our “consumer based economy,” but sadly these types of headlines are considerably more pervasive in winter. It is common knowledge that the recent increase in horse starvation cases is largely a function of pure economics–rising feed costs, contracting personal incomes, layoffs and foreclosures are combining to create the “perfect storm” of suffering for thousands of horses around this nation–not to mention that the simple cold of winter, even with available food, can stress a horse to the brink.

I could squander many a column inch ranting about the problem, but what people really want are solutions. At a recent meeting with an inspired group of Animal Legal Defense Fund supporters, the idea of sponsoring equine food banks to address this problem was discussed in considerable detail. It’s a simple solution borrowed from the existing food bank model used for humans in need. Applied in areas plagued by an unending supply of horse neglect cases – and perhaps, in some situations, modified from a distribution center to a delivery service – you might just find this approach to be a simple solution to a growing problem. There are many creative ways to approach the issue of equine neglect and this is but one idea to consider. If you would like to discuss how you might go about applying this concept in your community, please give me a call or post a comment below.

Here’s hoping that you are able to find the time to relax, reflect and appreciate what you already have in this life. Happy holidays.  


2 thoughts on “Starving Horses: “In the absence of food, she began eating the wooden fence around the area where she was confined…”

  1. spalding says:

    Mr. Heiser, I just heard there was an Animal Bill of Rights today. So, I spent all day on the computer researching. I read everthing I could to better understand your plight. I feel your frustration. I live in a rural part of Ca. Here, people are turning horses loose, stealing hay or killing them. Although, I empathize with you, I do not agree. By creating this bill your opening Pandora’s box. Your attacking religions, customs, and cultures; all the-while, projecting your views upon other people. I really struggle with the rights set fourth in the bill. I don’t use a leash to walk my dogs. My neighbor does. Her dogs seem content but, so do mine. My cat was caught wild on my property. He was mal-nurished and infested with fleas. It took 3 months to tame him down and another 3 months to get rid of all his parasites. Was he any happier than he was before I caught him? Who knows? Did I violate his right to freedom by catching him? Did I catch him because I knew what was best for him? Or, because I wanted a cat? Either way I still would have violated the law your trying to pass. If all animals should have the same rights there wouldn’t be a food chain. Your mixing up emotion with instinct. I’ve watched my dog grab a rabbit and bite through its lungs. The rabbit was weezing and screaming.At that time should I have helped the rabbit? I would have violated your bill by taking it away from my dog. I’m sorry, but as soon as we humans project our emotions on animals; We’ll have dogs being punished for murder. Who are we to say what is best for any animal? Is it unfair to live in town and keep a dog in your back yard? Mine have 80 acres. Is my dog worth more than a stray on the streets? To me he is. To any one else he isn’t. There is a hierarchy in life and humans are at the top. Our place on the hierarchy is usually determined by where we fall on the food chain. You can’t give animals rights, to hold humans accountable for there treatment. Not every animal will get a responsible owner. Not every animal has the same needs. Animals are not created equal to humans. I realize your just trying to do what is morally right and I think it’s great. But you have to change people; not the law.

  2. DeeDee says:

    a food bank is an excellent idea and well needed. I think the response before me about “animal rights” is way out there. God gave us humans dominion over animals..not to mistreat them, but to care for them…when we can. Animals should have the right to be treated humanely. PERIOD. AND YES Pet food bank is greatly needed. My taxes don’t directly benefit me in the way of welfare for me or any of my animals, but my tax dollars do go to help illegal and foreigners to have U.S. born babies here and they then also qualify for welfare after their medical bills have been paid by ….my tax dollars, yet my horses or me aren’t eligible for help should i need it….BULLSHIT.