pandemo (pandemo) wrote,
pandemo
pandemo

Dumping



Someone dumped a STALLION, malnutritioned and halter-less, injured on his nose and hind leg, untreated, bite marks all over his body, in the entryway to Raccoon Road, just south of my house. Ten neighbors/passers-by decided I needed this animal -- IN MY FRONT YARD!

I came home Wednesday night at dusk to see my house yard gate closed and a bucket in sight. My heart jumped into my throat -- which of mine is HURT? How badly?

Before I got the gate closed behind me, neighbor Susan Moore pulled in behind me and told me she'd set the water out and hoped it was all right.

She claimed she DID NOT realize it was a stallion.

Now, if people can't afford to feed their horse and dump him, I can rest assured he's not been exposed to any transferable diseases, and is current on his shots, so sharing snot with my brood mare herd and one gelding will NOT result in diseases running through my herd, right?

And, since I have a wooden board at the top of my woven wire fences instead of the customary three strands of barb wire, the 4' height should be adequate to keep a stallion from breeding the four willing mares who invited
him into their boudoir Wednesday night, right? Or the five who wished to avail themselves of his services Thursday morning? Or the four (two different from the original ones -- after all, I only have 13 for him to
choose from!) who were willing to accept him Thursday night when the vet tried to help me catch him to treat his injuries.

He did eventually get close enough to snap photos of him, which he took to the sheriff's office in an attempt to locate the owners. He commented that I had described the horse, both physical condition and manageability, accurately, and how unlike the reaction of my own horses to strangers this one’s was.

This is the second time someone has dumped horses along Raccoon road. The Lemplee's (probably misspelled) have a mare and a mule they did not want. Nebulous rumors of yet others “liberated” here are circulating. What is clear is that our county has no action plan in place to deal with the problem. Let’s hope that changes BEFORE someone’s life is lost. Grass, replanted, will eventually grow. It may be too late to help my needy mare this year, but it will re-grow. New trees can be purchased and planted. But new children born can never replace a human life lost to an accidental encounter along our county’s roads.

Susan Moore, who does not have the money to feed him, nor good enough fences to contain a stallion, is willing to take him, but there's the problem of how to get him over there.

With the cut on his face, even if he should turn out to be halter broke, he's not going to take kindly to having one put on that gash down his nose bone.

And just HOW did this turn out to be MY problem? Nobody asked me if I wanted a horse that should have been a gelding. Me, who is trying to sell 13 head, and has only had one inquiry all year -- for something that I do
not have, and that this horse can never be?

Two sleepless nights jumping every time I hear a breeding sound, dashing outside (since I have no windows to the west) to see if he's still in the yard (where the grass I was regulating to Cariñosa and Crem for some
much-deserved TLC is now a mud hole) or on the fence or a mare... then back to trying to drop off, visions of the times my own stallions hung themselves over the tops of 5 1/2’ tall gates roiling through my brain. Oh, JOY. Where’s the power down switch for my mind when I need it?

My mom emailed, “Lou suggested sending him to the glue factory.”

Mama, that's part of the problem... There are NO MORE SLAUGHTERHOUSES, so people no longer have that option when push comes to shove. They can humanely destroy the animal at their expense, but how do they dispose of the carcass if they are city dwellers?


Hidden Damages of Dumping

Last year, NPR broadcasts reported the heroic efforts of a horse rescuer in drought stricken Georgia, collecting unwanted equines whose owners could no longer feed or water their animals from the roads where they’d been abandoned. It was treated as a puff piece. No discussion of responsible pet ownership, no hint that people should NOT just abandon their dogs, cats, horses, etc. in times of natural disaster like Katrina, not a whisper of their culpability in other problems caused by their actions. There followed shortly afterward similar reports from West Virginia, again with no discussion of the consequences.

Now, Wayne county residents are reaping the harvest of such boldly and broadly strewn seeds. City and county government officials have no experience dealing with dumping, and no plan of action in place to speedily remove the residue dumped on our public roadways arriving from parts unknown.

Here’s how it feels to be on the receiving end of these little love gifts.

It is sunset Wednesday. I pull into my driveway, having just completed typing my last semester final, mentally and physically exhausted, only a week away from retirement after 41 years in the trenches of the war to retire ignorance that is currently being waged in public education, ready to enter the peace and quiet of my 80 acre, extremely rural farm.

I turn into my driveway and feel my heart rate accelerate. The house yard gates are closed! A water bucket is visible directly outside the gate to the pasture where my 12 mares and one gelding are penned, giving them free access to both pond water and the bale pen. My heart jumps into my throat -- which of mine is HURT? How badly? Did my unknown good Samaritan summon the vet, secure in the knowledge that I’d somehow pay the bill?

Before I get the gate closed behind me, I spot an unknown horse, bay, four white stockings and a large irregular snip, horridly skinny.

I exit the car, thinking, That’s odd. Nobody called to say they were dropping a mare off for breeding. They’re dreaming if that’s their idea of a horse in shape to carry a healthy foal to term.

Several of my mares are hugging the house yard fence line, tails up. My visitor must be a stallion! I step so I can view him -- yes, well-endowed. I examine him more carefully. He’s malnutritioned and halter-less, a four inch long gash down the bridge of his nose, a grapefruit-sized lump below his hock and possibly on down the face of the cannon bone on the left hind leg, apparently untreated, fresh blood showing in both areas, bite marks all over his body. As he moves, he gimps, but the shoulder slope and pastern angle indicate this might just be the result of his leg injury. He carries his tail up and out, like an Arabian, but his prominent nose bone and heavy leg bones belie that blood. He is slender necked, which can indicate youth, slender bodied, long backed, with a croup that slopes off sharply, heavy-boned for his size, which can be another indication of youth. Surely this sorry animal would have been gelded by any responsible breeder. He does NOT look so young that he needs to wait a bit to develop more. Both he and my mares think he’s old enough to breed. He’s ready!

Headlights pull into the drive, so I hold the gate as neighbor Susan Moore pulls in behind me and tells me she's set the water out and hopes it is all right. Sometime that afternoon, ten neighbors/passers-by decided I needed this animal, dumped half a mile away, in the public roadway -- IN MY FRONT YARD!

She claims she DID NOT realize it was a stallion.

I start toward him as if he were one of my own stallions, but he turns and flees. I glance at the halter and lead rope hanging at the end of the porch railing. Probably won’t be needing that. With the cut on his face, even if he should turn out to be halter broke, he's not going to take kindly to having one put on that gash down his nose bone.

My anger is rising, but I don’t want to vent on Susan, who is trying to act responsibly. She has no idea how carefully I have been husbanding the grass in my yard, doling it out in two or three hour patches to my 23 year old mare with special needs. To her, sacrificing a little yard grass vs. the potential of losing a human life is a no-brainer. In theory, I agree. I just wish it were SOMEONE ELSE’s YARD!

Now, if people can't afford to feed their horse and dump him, I can rest assured he's not been exposed to any transferable diseases, and is current on his shots, so sharing snot with my brood mare herd and one gelding will NOT result in diseases running through my herd, right?

And, since I have a wooden board at the top of my woven wire fences instead of the customary three strands of barb wire, the 4' height should be adequate to keep a stallion from breeding the four willing mares who invited
him into their boudoir Wednesday night, even though both of my breeding age stallions have hung themselves going over 5’6” gates to breed mares, and will bear the scars the rest of their lives, right?

It is after 10 before I’ve heard the entire tale of the son of a neighbor living at the start of Raccoon Road just off Highway S 56 in a camper who reports hearing the sound of a trailer door opening, then the clompings of hooves that lead him to conclude that our guest was deliberately dumped. I hear that around the bend on Raccoon Road, another neighbor stumbled upon a dumped mare and a mule. Other gifts have mysteriously appeared elsewhere in the county. Times are tough all over. We look green earlier than points north, but if the folks doing the dumping had been farmers, they would have recognized that our hayfields and grass seem about a month behind normal, with no sign of normal weather patterns in sight.

I spend a sleepless night jumping every time I hear a breeding sound, dashing outside (since I have no windows to the west) to see if he's still in the yard or on the fence or a mare... then back to trying to drop off, visions of the times my own stallions hanging from various gates roiling through my brain. Oh, JOY. Where’s the power down switch for my mind when I need it?

As I pull out for school Thursday morning, I am just SURE the five mares who wish to avail themselves of his services Thursday morning will be unsuccessful trying to lure him onto the foot and a half lower fence with visions of breeding dancing in his brain. What, me worry? Never!

I rush home as soon as it is legal to leave, having learned from the Sheriff’s office that yes, I was still hosting the stallion, and that as far as they knew, the vet had not visited. No, nobody knows who the owner is. No, nobody is in the market for an injured, unfriendly, poor quality stallion of unknown bloodlines. Surprise, surprise!

The four mares (two different from the original ones -- after all, I only have a dozen for him to choose from!) who were willing to accept him Thursday night when the vet tried to help me catch him to treat his injuries would surely also be unsuccessful in coaxing him onto or over the fence. Dr. Whitey verified that he was in a bad place to stay safe, that it was reasonable to expect further injury to him, my facilities, and/or my mares. He pointed out that while he could successfully lasso him, there was nothing in the yard that could hold him without risking further injury to him and/or damage to the fences. He agreed with the description I’d given to the sheriff’s office, and, even though he received an emergency call just as he arrived, we debated what to do with him, tried to approach and treat him, took the time to get his camera out, and tried to corner the stallion again so he’d at least be in range for some ID photos, which he printed off at the vet clinic and took to the sheriff’s office, where Officer Lewis was trying to locate an owner/place for the horse to stay permanently.

Without owner permission, official destruction of a dumped animal seems beyond the current scope of what our county has legal permission to do. Once a human life or two have been endangered or forfeited, that situation may change.

And just HOW did this turn out to be MY problem? Nobody asked me if I
wanted a stallion that should have been a gelding running loose in my front yard. Me, who is trying to sell 13 head, and has only had one inquiry all year -- for something that I do not have, don’t have the facilities or gas money/transportation to create, and that this horse can never be?

This is the second time someone has dumped horses along Raccoon Road recently. A neighbor around the curve has an unwanted mare and a mule. Nebulous rumors of yet others “liberated” here are circulating. What is clear is that our county has no action plan in place to deal with the problem. Let’s hope that changes BEFORE someone’s life is lost. Grass, replanted, will eventually grow. It may be too late to help my needy mare this year, but it will re-grow. New trees can be purchased and planted. But new children born can never replace a human life lost to an accidental encounter along our county’s roads.

My mom emailed, “Lou suggested sending him to the glue factory.”

Mama, that's part of the problem... There are NO MORE SLAUGHTERHOUSES, so people no longer have that option when push comes to shove. They can humanely destroy the animal at their expense, but how do they dispose of the carcass if they are city dwellers?

Kenny Kline brought the five foot high cattle panels that hook together, the couple from lineville came with a 12 foot stock trailer, a teenage horse handler from school who gave me his phone number during semester tests came, and Susan Moore, the neighbor who helped run him in here, came with her live stock whip. By the time we all got together, the sun was out, and he'd been filling his belly with yard grass for four days, all the water he could drink, and NO physical threat. The emotional input was me, talking softly and loving on my mares, who came willingly to my hand and call. His demeanor had changed enough that he got willingly within 8-10 feet of me, instead of running on sight.

Still, it took ALL OF US, and several hours to load him. In the end, it was my knowledge and willingness to be in harm's way, coupled with the strength of my student, who'd seen my move, which the horse by then was willing to accept, before it happened. Had you been here, working the way we work together, the whole thing would have been over hours earlier, when the stallion first allowed me to turn him toward the trailer and was in the proper position.

I'm GLAD it is done, but not over, as he has not found a permanent home. When he first came here, I thought the best course was to put him down as incorrigible, but now, after the way he came up and sniffed my hand, did not ever offer to rear, strike, kick, or bite during the loading, etc. I think Whitney or a similar horse vet COULD treat him, and a sufficiently motivated, knowledgeable horseperson could work him into a useable animal. He will always carry scars from these injuries, but they are not life-threatening. He could not show with them, but does not seem show quality to me. (Of course, fat can hide a lot...)

> Hey,
>
> I just got the message. I did not get email or phone messages until
> last night after 9pm.
>
> What did you end up doing?
>
> I will call later today. My phone at home has lost signal, but I'm at
> school today getting caught up and going to graduation at 2pm.
>
> Talk to you later.

Don’t get me wrong; I am an animal lover and have been all my life. HOWEVER, I was expected to clean up my own mess. At 16, when I received the best birthday present of my life, PERMISSION to buy a horse, I practiced that philosophy by biking five miles to the pasture I’d rented and feeding my animals daily. Sometimes that meant scooping their rich residue out of stalls and stockpiling it. After a few years, savvy city gardeners will beat a path to your back yard, hauling away that free fertilizer. But, no thank you, don’t make that stockpile within OUR city limits! No horses permitted overnight. Insurance companies list them as “attractive nuisances” and deny coverage or hike the rates to exorbitant levels.

So, I moved south, into horse country - ground too poor and steeply pitched to raise anything but hay without risking having all the fertilizer wash down into Lake Rathbun, from which the rural drinking water is drawn. My first season, a friendly farmer rented my farm and plowed straight up and down the hills, fertilized heavily, and I saw the erosion ditch coming off the north east corner of that field double in size in one season, while the drought caused the nitrates to go up the corn stalks instead of into the ground. This had the unexpected benefit of increasing my vocabulary. I’d never heard of nitrate poisoning. After I hauled the two mysteriously dead mares up to Ames that winter to be examined by the vet school trainees, I learned at first hand what type of brain damage fertilizer causes in equines. I’d put my horses in corn fields all over southern Minnesota to winter. Growing up in downtown Chicago does have its drawbacks as a preparation for true rural living.

Through trial and error, study of best facilities in other places, and the application of multitudes of local fence-builders who could be enticed into building in native oak lumber, I finally arrived at an arrangement that suited my purposes, which included replacing the traditional barb wire atop the standard woven wire fencing with a native oak 1 x 6 boards on oaken posts and constructing 6’ fences with a 4” gap between the boards, too small for a horse’s hoof or nose to fit through. Generally, I am proud of my system of lots and pastures, for I can rotate and ration in dry years, move and load from multiple areas. Neighbors have herded cattle off the road into one of my dry lots, then loaded their wanderers up for a ride home. When RAGBRI (Register's Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) came by, a neighbor whose herd left their home electric wire pasture six miles away were safely ensconced there. (They’d joined a group of 150 practice cyclists who’d come by the week before, leading officers a merry six mile chase before being corralled in my lots. Bicyclists who’d been riding with horses breathing down their backs waved in relief.)

But now, 31 years later, I am having second thoughts. Now it seems an exercise in folly. Just days from retirement, I have been blessed with someone’s unwanted burden - a front yard stallion. While I was at school, preparing to give semester tests, ten neighbors/passers-by decided that the best place for a stallion who had magically appeared from thin air at the entry to Raccoon road, a mere 1/2 mile south of my 80 acre horse farm, was my FRONT YARD. Local residents are used to the sight of horses grazing among my few surviving flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables. Evidently, a point they have missed is that my hay and grass are doing just as poorly, growing just as slowly as their own. My 23 year old mare with special needs was being given access to the yard every day or two for a few hours at a time, to pick her up a bit. Trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, and grass all survived this carefully supervised plan. But no longer. I have an uprooted white oak that was just put in during April, purchased through the ASCS office in Corydon. Half of the grass has been transformed into a muddy track as he worries the fence line.

My own two stallions are behind “safe” 6’ high barriers. Both of them have had bad experiences during breeding season, being coaxed by randy mares into trying to breed them over the top of 5’ 1/2” gates. Both bare the scars, and will until death. My mares are a fence away, safely in a pasture with water and access to the hay bale pen until the grass will support them (or I run out of hay, which it is looking more and more likely as we endure yet another week of cold, windy weather more suited to late March, early April than the trailing edge of May.) So, of course, I should jump with joy at the opportunity to support a “free” (read: UNSALABLE) animal someone else chose, starved, failed to protect, and “liberated”, to live like its ancient ancestors in a wild west movie. I’m just sure, as he exchanges snot with my willing mares, that his former owners/caregivers have taken care of his shots, so I won’t get any nasty surprise diseases introduced into my herd of registered mares... At least they appear to be out of heat now, following two nights of popping up at every sound of breeding noises to see if he were on a fence or a mare, instead of still safely in the yard. I should be delighted to have the opportunity to hire someone to rebuild whatever he breaks, be able to stand the expense, heartache, and physical strain of caring for whatever mare gets hurt in the fracas. I still have one with head and neck trauma from flipping over a fence two years ago. I am just dying for a repeat of that injury. Or the broken leg that led to the vet’s humane disposal of my best mare? I’m just THRILLED to re-experience those past events with a new horse.

What are you people smoking? Free range went out with the invention of barb wire, even out west, in most places; most certainly throughout Iowa. While Iowa does boast rodeos, they no longer are held on working cattle ranches, in pens used to round up free-roaming herds from the area, (if such things ever existed here) but in arenas specifically built by local saddle clubs, etc., for recreational purposes only.

I have thirteen head of horses here for sale (out of a total of 15), down from 35-ish in my farm’s hey day (pre 9/11/2001). In fact, I still have one unsold gelding from that last colt crop. When horses quit selling out as they became weanlings, I quit breeding. This year, I’ve had one inquiry, for a product I do not have and can’t afford to produce at current gas prices. I thought I was having the worst year ever in 2002, when I made my first $500 sale in May. Nope. Last year, I traded one mare, and made a $500 sale midway through the year... total.

Between the decreased hay acreage as farmers tear up every field they can to plant more corn, and the vagaries of the weather, hay gets scarcer and scarcer. Responsible animal owners do something about it BEFORE their horses become starving hulks, try to escape their confinement to find food and injure themselves in the process. Is that how this pathetically thin stallion came by the four inch long bloody patch on his nose? The grapefruit-sized, apparently untreated wound on his left hind leg? The bite marks covering his body say he was not penned with friends. His leery attitude toward people says he was not given early exposure to people that would result in a companion animal. Someone ought to be ashamed. Someone ought to step up the the plate and own up to their problems.

If people can no longer feed an animal, can’t sell it, can’t give it away, they need to PUT IT DOWN THEMSELVES, dispose of the body THEMSELVES. We are animal lovers, too, but sometimes euthanasia is the best answer.

Those nasty Peta activists are quite short sighted. Now that they’ve spearheaded a successful drive to eliminate the “inhumane” slaughter houses, they have also removed an option for owners who find themselves in a bind. Dangerous, injured, ill, and unsalable animals now have no place to go AT ALL. Nobody sees the PETA people stuck with someone's unwanted stallions tearing up their front lawns! They will NOT hold themselves to be at fault when someone’s unwanted, dumped animal causes an accident, killing or maiming some innocent driver who has willfully and wantonly committed the heinous crime of trying to drive along a public road.

Imagine the deer/car wreck we had recently in Iowa where the impact tore the animal in half, flinging one piece into a second vehicle. Horses are a sturdier, more heavily bodied animal than a deer, and generally will weigh far more, in some cases, nearly twice as much, as well. We ought to all thrill to gorier crashes happening to our neighbors and friends, welcome the opportunity to replace our used, but still unpaid for, vehicles before we can afford to because they were totally destroyed by hitting a more substantial, less timid, animal.

Just last Monday, one of my juniors came to class all glum, describing the deer that had totaled his vehicle, too old for insurance... Fortunately, he escaped battered, but basically unharmed. Now, far more sturdy vehicles than what my young student could afford to own will also grace our land fills and junkyards before their time.

Another youngster used his four wheeler to help tow a horse who supposedly had liberated himself from his owner’s trailer as it traveled south on S 56 at highway speeds. All four legs were broken on impact. Where was the body disposed of? Why, in a roadside ditch, of course. That’s sanitary, and FREE. Why should anyone object to something like that? After all, won’t the buzzards pick the body clean and the coyotes scatter the bones into hayfields where haying equipment can just roll them right into bales of hay with no damage to the farmer’s machinery? Isn’t that nature’s way? Survival of the fittest?

Oh, JOY. Oh, brave new world!
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