Police in Union Parish, La., have charged horseman Hal Parker, 60, of Haile, with two more felony counts of animal cruelty related to two horses he housed from the kill pen rescue ICareIHelp. In February, Parker was arrested and charged with one felony count of theft of livestock, two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of simple cruelty to animals. In April, police added nine more animal cruelty charges — seven for malnourished horses found on his property, and two for horses who were seized and later died from suspected neglect.
Parker has remained in jail since his February arrest.
Parker was a close associate of ICareIHelp, a self-proclaimed “Thoroughbred rescue” operation run by New Jersey-based Dina Alborano, and was tasked with boarding and quarantine for horses Alborano had purchased from Louisiana livestock auctions and kill pens frequented by buyers who transported horses for slaughter. The Paulick Report first began reporting on Alborano's activities in April 2018, at which time her organization did not appear to have achieved tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, despite claims on its website at the time that it was a “non-profit.”
ICareIHelp was one of many operations which solicited funds from the public to pay a price set by a kill pen to “bail” a horse out of the slaughter pipeline. Kill pens typically set such prices significantly above the per-pound meat price they could expect to receive at the Mexican or Canadian borders. Alborano, who initially received support from major figures in the Thoroughbred industry, raised money through social media to purchase the horses, transport them, and keep them with Parker by requesting donations to her PayPal account. Our story raised questions about the volume of horses taken in by Alborano and Parker in a short period of time, as well as the care they received in a pair of abandoned poultry houses in Farmerville, La. Horses were often poorly or wrongly identified to the public, and updates seemed unavailable on a large number after they were bailed by Alborano.
Police say the two horses involved in the latest round of charges are those identified as Lucky Pierre and Revielle, both off-track Thoroughbreds bailed from a kill pen and subsequently given away by Alborano. Lucky Pierre was adopted in August 2018 by Dr. Sue Thomas of North Carolina after he was advertised by Alborano as bailed in March. Thomas told the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization that the horse she received was extremely underweight, unsound, and had profound issues — contrary to the photo she saw posted on ICareIHelp's social media soon after his arrival.
Revielle was the name given to a mare unidentified by Alborano by her adopter, Dr. Stephanie Simonson. Simonson described the mare she received as being “at death's door” and provided photos showing the mare had also lost significant weight since the intake photos posted of her by the organization.
While rescue advocates initially questioned where the 100-plus horses “rescued” by Alborano ended up, police said in April they had tracked the location of most of them, “alive or dead.”
A post appearing on the ICareIHelp homepage earlier this year reads, “[I]careihelp is no longer actively rescuing, as we are no longer accepting donations. This website is dedicated to the eight months in which we [actively] saved over 100 horses in kill lots from slaughter and rehomed each and every one of them with no adoption fee. Thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey and our organization.”
A News Star article from April described a grim scene uncovered by police at property used by Parker to house horses.
“The horses had eaten the bark off of the trees, and were eating dried vines off of the fence row. A large number of bones were found in the back pasture where horses had died and had not been buried,” the report read.
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