Wanda English Burnett
The problem of animal abuse and neglect signifies a much deeper
issue - one that can affect the quality of life in a community,
according to equine expert Anthony R. Caldwell, president of
the Animal Protection Coalition, Inc./Indiana Horse Rescue organization.
There is a direct link between animal abuse and domestic
violence and abuse, he told the group gathered for an
informative seminar last week at the Ripley County Emergency
Management Agencys office in Versailles.
Passionate about the issue, Caldwell gave an overview of the
mission of their organization and what it means to abused horses.
Citing Indiana State law, he laid the foundation for what can
be done when animal abuse is suspected. Any police officer
can take any animal, he noted, saying the laws are specifically
designed to protect the animals.
While were not interested in running about taking
peoples animals, they do have a responsibility to take
care of animals they have on their property, Caldwell
Wayne Peace, director of Ripley County Emergency Management
Agency (RCEMA) agreed with Caldwell saying, after complaints
about the care of animals were made at a recent public meeting,
he felt the seminar was timely. We just want people to
take care of their animals, he reiterated. He, along with
Andy Bryant, environmental health specialist for the county,
hosted the event.
Make no mistake, if there is suspected abuse it will be checked
out and with the law very clear animals can be removed
from properties without the owners consent or knowledge.
Also, according to Caldwell, a veterinarian can make the decision
of euthanasia for any animal after determination of health is
Taking animals from their owners is not the first thing
to do, Caldwell explained. He said, sometimes people just
need help. He cited a case in Greensburg that was referred to
his agency. These people were going through hard times,
they simply did not have the feed for their horses. The
horse rescue organization that Caldwell heads, stepped in and
no, they didnt take the horses - they brought food to
them and helped the owners keep the animals they loved. Our
job is to improve animal welfare, Caldwell said.
But, hes not opposed to going onto a property and seizing
one, two, or 30 horses at a time, which he has done.
Referring to Indiana Code, Caldwell said animals have rights.
In the laws, words such as neglect (to give little attention
or respect to), torture (anguish of body or mind - something
that causes agony on pain), and mutilate (to cut up or alter
radically so as to make imperfect), are clearly defined.
Using the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System, a horse can
be evaluated for fat content. Caldwell explained that a horse
that is rated a (2), should be under immediate care. The ribs
would be prominent at this level and the horse very thin.
When a horses condition is questionable, there are vital
signs that give the answer to whether the animal needs medical
care. They include: temperature, pulse, respiration, gut sounds,
dehydration and more.
An important physical factor that can determine the care of
a horse is the condition of their hooves. ...a riding
horse must have sound, healthy hooves in order to function properly
and be of any use to its owner. That information comes
from an animal scientist, student and veterinarian.
The report went on to note that horses hooves can require
more maintenance than dairy hooves, or the hooves of any other
animal. They not only require daily cleaning, but some horses
benefit from shoeing as well. Stone bruises, punctures, and
abscesses are all common. You can tell a lot about the
horses care by its hooves, Caldwell noted.
Horses and all outside animals are greatly affected by cold
weather. Caldwell says horses require additional energy to maintain
their internal body temperature and keep warm. The type of feed
is another important factor, along with maintaining ample water
Some of the steps to effective cold weather management for horses
include increasing hay, increase dry-matter content of the diet
24 hours prior to forecasted cold weather, supplement fat, and
offer 10 gallons of warm water daily.
Adequate shelter is an important aspect to the well being of
horses and all animals.
Upon receiving a complaint of an abused or neglected horse,
an Animal Control Officer (ACO) may look for signs of neglect.
They would include but are not limited to: no shelter, debris
or substantial droppings in a stall, ammonia fumes or urine
in the stall, chew marks on the stall, limited access to water,
overgrown, untrimmed hooves and unstable, weak fences.
Caldwell noted that a horses age can be determined by
their teeth. Weve had people try to tell us their
horse was skinny because it was old, he commented. A quick
inspection of the teeth tells the story. Also, a request to
see feed receipts can sometimes prove or disprove a statement.
Citing court cases involving the care of horses, Caldwell said
the law is clear and his organization follows it, making them
successful in what they do.
The bottom line is - if you have animals - and horses in particular
- they require a lot of care. Peace concluded by saying, If
people arent willing to spend time and money, they shouldnt
Caldwell told the law enforcement officers in attendance at
the meeting to rely on experts and not hesitate to make a call
for animals to be removed if abuse or neglect is suspected.
Officers from the Indiana State Police, Ripley County Sheriffs
Office, EMA personnel, Humane Society, Horse Rescue investigators,
employees of the local health department and state animal Board
of Health, were all represented at the seminar. They were from
Dearborn, Jennings, Decatur and Ripley counties.