Protect Your Horses: You Are All They Have
In the wake of the disturbing allegations against 24-year-old Kelsey Lefever, the Pennsylvania woman charged with deceptive business practices and theft by deception in a case involving horse adoption and slaughter, Allie Conrad, executive director of CANTER Mid Atlantic, posted a very compelling piece on Facebook about what horse owners can do to keep their animals from being exploited.
CANTER USA is an all-volunteer organization with regional branches from coast to coast that have, in total, assisted in the placement of 15,000 ex-racehorses since its creation. Following is Conrad's article, revised for the Paulick Report and published with her permission. –Ray Paulick
I wish we could nail all of the people stealing horses from our racetracks under false pretenses, and selling them direct to slaughter for a measly $300 in profit per horse with widespread articles, shares on Twitter and Facebook, with photos of their faces. Unfortunately, we usually can't unless there is a public record of their absolutely soulless transgressions.
Thankfully in regards to a case that occupied a lot of my free time this past spring, someone pressed charges against this vile creature, Kelsey Lefever, so her name could be publicized.
Remember that for every horse you give away, no matter how pretty the girl is who shows up, no matter how sweet she may seem, no matter if she has kids in tow, no matter if she says she is a grandmother looking for a horse for her grandchild–NO MATTER WHAT, you MUST check references and you must be prepared to listen to your gut and just say “no” if you feel uneasy.
You are better off putting an animal down humanely before trusting that it will land on its feet with someone who you do not trust. Checking references means asking people for their vet or practice name, and obtaining the phone number yourself after checking the validity of the identity of the person who wants to give your horse a home.
It means calling and speaking to the vet and asking questions like, “How long has X been a client? How many horses does X have? How would you rate X's fencing? Would you give her a horse of yours?”
You may get answers that require you to read between the lines, but if you've existed with any success long enough to have horses, you certainly have a “gut instinct.” Follow it! Your horses' life may depend on it.
We have heard every vile story in the book over the past 15 years.
We have had women who borrow disabled children from neighbors to obtain “therapy horses”, only to sell them to New Holland or straight to slaughter.
We have had countless people show up asking for “4H horses”. (I, for one, have never met a 4Her looking for a horse)
We've heard the “camp horse” angle.
We've heard the sick daughter angle and her dying wish is a horse of her own.
We've heard the “We're really broke but will give him a great home!” angle.
We've just heard it all, and sometimes it's hard to remember that not everybody has. Please tell any person you know at the track, any person you know with horses, that these people are out there, and they are out there in droves.
They WANT TO TAKE YOUR HORSES AND KILL THEM FOR A PROFIT. Remember that.
The criminal charges against her may stop Kelsey Lefever, but three more will spring up in her place, and they will have T-shirts and coffee mugs and brochures to convince you that their dimpled smile would NEVER let anything bad happen to your horses. They are liars and they are laughing every time they take a horse that you help load on their trailer so they can deliver it straight to its very cruel death.
Want to protect your horses in the best way you can? Keep them for life. Lots of folks cannot pull this off. But they can pull off developing a relationship with a verifiable, well-reputed non-profit working near you, setting aside money to care for your horse and donating it, and one year's worth of expenses to that group.
No doubt that lots of folks knew exactly what Kelsey allegedly was up to. Those are the folks that were looking for a cheap, fast way to dump problem animals (problems because they simply existed and weren't fast enough) and wash their hands (and consciences!) of it.
But there were lots of folks who thought they were doing the right thing. They trusted a cute brunette who handed them a mug and a magnet touting her amazing skills in finding homes for horses, and those people are no doubt reeling from the fact that their animals – the animals who trusted them – are dead from a violent death. I cannot imagine their fury, because if it's anything like mine, they are physically ill and ready to kill.
“You are responsible forever, for those you have tamed”– St. Exupery
Protect your horses, you are all they have.
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