HOW TO MAKE A COM­PLAINT

EQUUS - - Special Report -

When mak­ing a com­plaint about ne­glected, abused or aban­doned an­i­mals, please ad­here to the fol­low­ing lists of dos and don’ts. To help a case pro­ceed as smoothly as pos­si­ble, here is what you want to do:

• Pro­vide the ad­dress where the horse is lo­cated. If that’s not pos­si­ble, give di­rec­tions that are as pre­cise as pos­si­ble. For ex­am­ple, head­ing north on high­way 77 from the in­ter­state, go two miles to county road 100 and turn right, then drive about a mile. The horses are on the right side of the road, be­hind a barbed wire fence next to a mo­bile home that ap­pears to be aban­doned.

We of­ten get di­rec­tions such as, “The skinny horses are in Moody, Texas, on high­way 7,” but high­way 7 may be hun­dreds of miles long. I’ve even re­ceived di­rec­tions that say, “There is a starv­ing horse be­hind the yel­low house in Emory.” With­out spe­cific in­for­ma­tion, we can­not lo­cate the horses and get them help.

• Take pho­tos or videos from a pub­lic road, if it’s al­lowed in your state. Th­ese images will help law en­force­ment and/or the res­cue iden­tify which horses you are re­port­ing and de­cide how dire the sit­u­a­tion is be­fore they act.

You may not tres­pass to ob­tain images. If you want to go onto neigh­bor­ing prop­erty to see the horses bet­ter, you must first get per­mis­sion. Some states have “ag gag” laws---anti-whistle­blower mea­sures that make it il­le­gal to record in­ci­dents of al­leged an­i­mal cru­elty in farm­ing prac­tices. You might be able to make the case that an ag gag law doesn’t ap­ply to pho­tograph­ing a ne­glected or aban­doned horse, but a judge may dis­agree if the owner sues or presses charges.

• Doc­u­ment as many de­tails as you can. Write down the num­ber of horses, their col­ors and dis­tin­guish­ing mark­ings you can see from a dis­tance, the con­di­tion of each horse, and any other per­ti­nent de­tails. If you see the horses fre­quently, start a log and record the date and time you see the horses, and note any changes in their con­di­tion.

• Give the au­thor­i­ties time to work. If a ne­glected horse’s life is not in im­me­di­ate dan­ger, most law en­force­ment of­fi­cers will give the owner an op­por­tu­nity to cor­rect the sit­u­a­tion. They will ed­u­cate the owner on proper

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