Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Two-Year Plan to Stop Neglect in Wisconsin

Update 2: Leading WI horse rescuers will be meeting on Sunday March 16th in Fon du lac to work on these ideas.
If you want an invite, email me at

Update: scroll to the bottom for a new message.


So this is probably old news to you all, but Juslain's mommy paid all the bills Kelly could prove were owed to her, and took the horses. Kelly had no choice, legally. The little bay mare left still pretty damn sick with strangles. God help those horses.

Speaking of crappy news, further investigation into the Sean Legault case has shown that he's been neglecting horses since at least 2007. When he moved his horses to another county, he escaped scrutiny, and that's how they wound up so damn thin. Why didn't the humane officer from Green County warn the cops in Lafayette County? Why was Legault allowed to neglect horses for SO LONG in the first place? Why was he NEVER charged with anything, and why is he only being charged with two misdemeanors when he's clearly caused horses to suffer (and die!) for years?!

I am SICK of this crap being allowed to happen. Every single week I see another starving horse or beaten dog here in Wisconsin. Stories like the Barb Thiry case are all too common. And case after case has ended the same way: abusers may get a slap on the wrist after years of causing suffering, and then they go right back to getting more animals and letting them die in misery. I've been obsessively thinking about how we can change things, and here's my idealistic, pie-in-the-sky plan:

Stop Neglect in Wisconsin
2 Year Goals:

  1. Volunteers will have offered training and education to every law enforcement agency in Wisconsin. The curriculum would include what neglect looks like versus what's normal, how to capture and handle horses in an emergency, what Wisconsin laws say about neglect, and what resources are available to cops to assist them (rescues, experts, etc).
  2. Formally propose a finalized piece of legislation that would increase penalties for animal abuse and neglect, with at the support of at least one major politician.
  3. Formally propose a finalized piece of legislation that strengthens laws against animal abuse and neglect, with at the support of at least one major politician.
  4. Compile a list of Wisconsin residents who have a proven history of animal abuse and neglect. Give this list to every law enforcement office in Wisconsin...and maybe make it available to the public too.
  5. Form a communication network for humane officers (and regular law enforcement in counties where there are no dedicated "animal officers"), so that they can better notify their colleagues about individuals to watch out for.
  6. Form a "neighborhood watch" type of network, where volunteers "patrol" small areas of Wisconsin (no more than what's reasonable on a daily or weekly basis) and report any neglect they observe.
  7. Achieve this neglect watch coverage over the majority of Wisconsin.
  8. Formally petition large WI organizations to support Wisconsin rescue groups. For example, the Wisconsin Horse Council (which hosts the Midwest Horse Fair, among other things) currently gives no support to any horse rescue in Wisconsin. The Council doesn't even give them a discount on booth rentals at the Fair so that they can promote their rescues. Other groups could include breed organizations, the racing industry, and charitable groups.
  9. Bring horse rescue groups together, for better communication, support, and fundraising efforts. They might also consider agreeing on a set of standards for Wisconsin horse rescues.
  10. Target groups that have been proven to be more likely to become involved in animal abuse or neglect, and send volunteers to educate them about welfare issues. These groups could include the Amish community, Mexican rodeo groups, breeders, etc.

So what do you think, folks? This plan would require a ton of volunteer manpower. Those volunteers would have to really commit to following through as well. However, it doesn't require much money, if any. Will you support this plan? Do you have anything to add or change in this plan?

Oh, and p.s., of course I know that we will never totally eradicate neglect and abuse!

EDIT: The response to this has been amazing! Thank you all so much. When I wrote this, I thought I was mostly hoping and daydreaming. I never expected such an immediate and powerful "YES!" from so many people. Now I know we can make this happen.

But... (there's always a "but," isn't there?) it will take some time to get our ducks in a row. There may be weeks when it looks like nothing is happening. Hang in there! Don't get discouraged, we need you!

Here's what's happening right now:
I am currently organizing a meeting of some of the biggest horse rescuers in the state. Their cooperation is invaluable, and I really really appreciate their willingness to work with me, basically a nobody. We're hoping to get together sometime before the weather warms up. During that meeting, we will divvy up the 10 goals. I imagine the goal leader(s) will then recruit volunteers to help reach that goal.

Here's what YOU can do right now: 
Start working on goal #6. That's, "Form a "neighborhood watch" type of network, where volunteers "patrol" small areas of Wisconsin (no more than what's reasonable on a daily or weekly basis) and report any neglect they observe." Start talking to your friends about whether they would be willing to help with this. It's important to emphasize that we're not asking anyone to do more than observe and report neglect. Not trespassing, not confronting abusers, not feeding animals. Just observe and report. We especially need your friends that are not in your neighborhood; remember, we need wide coverage across Wisconsin.

Stay tuned, folks: there WILL be more on this!


  1. Yes, I'm in. We actually have some paperwork from a project similar to this that we started some years back but wound up hitting some road blocks (and lack of time to put into it) that I will share with you if you are interested.

  2. You have lofty goals, but they are very worthy goals in my opinion. I hope this comes to fruition, I will be watching for more news about it and would like to get involved with it at some point and I'm sure I can help get others involved as well!

  3. Could you please send me the education info and let me know what I can do to help!!

  4. I am very interested. Please let me know what I need to do. Thanks.

  5. Looks like a wonderful start, N.H. I will run all this by our Board of Directors today to see if anyone has more ideas on this "project" as well. They are a great group of people who understand the big picture. Thanks for picking up the ball and running with it!!