THE PROCESS OF SEEKING HELP
If you’ve seen horses that appear to be neglected or abused, and you’ve considered the case carefully enough to be certain that reporting the owner is the right course of action, then what?
• Find out who the proper authorities are. This can vary in different jurisdictions. It could be your local humane society or animal shelter, animal control department, sheriff or police department. Your county extension agent may be able to guide you.
• Document what you’ve observed, but do not do anything illegal or put yourself in danger. True animal abusers may also be dangerous to people, and if they suspect you reported them, they may retaliate in anger. Also, trespassing is illegal, and in some states with “ag-gag” laws, even photographing or videotaping animals on someone else’s property can get you in trouble.
That said, if you can take them safely, legally and anonymously, photos and videos can be invaluable evidence. Also make notes, including the number of horses involved and their colors and markings; the condition of each horse; the dates, times and locations of any specific incidents you witness; descriptions of people you see involved with the horses on the property; the address, and any other relevant details. It is also helpful to have individuals who can serve as witnesses to verify the abuse or neglect.
• from there. In no case should you attempt to provide care or seize the animals yourself. Do not comment about the case on social media; you may complicate the investigation or scare the owner into leaving the jurisdiction with the animals.