Mary Loeffelholz of Belleville, WI, is the scumbitch responsible for this cruelty. She got horses from careless people who'd got horses from decent people who'd given those horses away...without a buy-back contract. However, it's the local officials who have been letting this crap continue. They've been scolding Mary to "do better" with her 20 horses for 4+ years, but not actually taking real any legal action against her, much less getting the starving horses out of her hands.
Cheri Carr, Dane County Humane Officer, had issued an abatement order to Loeffelholz in 2008. It ordered her simply to provide regular food and water to her animals-- an order she appealed! (Her appeal failed after even her own mother testified against her.) However, that order expired in May 2011, and nothing was done since then.
Several news articles, here and here have made much of the fact that eight of the starving equines are now off of Mary's property, but what they fail to mention is that that's not really the doing of the officials themselves.
Several previous owners of the horses showed up and just plain took four of them. After making them take the horses back to their abuser, officials finally sort of acted when faced with the wrath of the would-be rescuers. One of those horses was put into protective custody, and the cops convinced scumbitch Mary to surrender seven more.The was also partially due to the heroic efforts of Madison lawyer Cynthia Fiene, who has been trying to get someone to do something for years. (I hear she has a website, but I can't find it-- if you know it, please share!)
However, there are still twelve starving critters in Mary's hands-- though she's moved them to her sister's place, where she probably hopes everyone will forget about them. Which the cops probably will, because they're still not making any legal moves against her, despite apparently agreeing that the horses needed to get out of there. No shit Sherlocks.
The cops are making the usual excuses about how long the legal process is to seize animals, etc...but come ON, it really takes more than four years?! Bullshit. Doug Vogeli, Director of Environmental Health Division, had more excuses:
- The cost of boarding, feeding and caring for so many large animals "is an issue." Wait, you mean the cost of caring for animals that several people have screamed about saving and are already willing to take care of? And how is it that we can spend millions of dollars giving convicted criminals health care, cable tv and workout equipment, but we can't spend a dime on helping tortured animals? Finally, don't we have animal control and humane societies for exactly this purpose?
- "The standard of care may not be what other people would want the horses to be kept at but the minimum standards were being met," says Doug. But isn't the decision of whether the minimum standards are being met a judgement call? Animal control does have to follow the law, but when you're looking at a law that says, "food must be present," and you see a pile of moldy straw, how about deciding that it's not really food?! Basically, the cops just don't want to push this case.
I'd like to start working on writing a bill that would create stricter standards for animal care, and another that would allow officials to seize animals faster. Is there anyone out there with legal experience that could help? Who do you think might sponsor such a bill?
If you're upset about this situation, you can do the following:
Contact Doug Voegeli, and tell him to take real action: firstname.lastname@example.org (608) 243-0360
Call Patrick Comfert, Animal Services Leadworker: 608-243-0309
Call Patrick's Boss, Beth Cleary, Program Manager, Animal Services Unit: 608- 243-0327
Contact everybody's boss, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, at:
City County Building Rm 421, 210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Madison WI 53703, 608-266-4114
Contact the Belleville Police Department and urge them to follow up on the case.
Contact the Oregon Horse Association, and tell them to spread the word among their members; neglected horses need homes, push the officials to prosecute, and never do business with Mary Loeffelholz!