Category Archives: News

The latest news on rescue efforts and the organization.

Minnesota Hay Bank partnership with Canterbury featured in several news stories (12.02.13)

The Minnesota Hay Bank was featured in several news stories this past week:

KSTP (5 Eyewitness News): ‘Hay Bank’ Helps Minn. Horses in Need Due to Hay Shortage

Fox 9 News: Minnesota Hay Bank donates bales to rescue group as prices climb

Fargo Forum: Hay Bank aims to help MN horse owners with winter feeding

Minnesota Hay Bank Interviewed about Hay Shortage (10.14.13)

The Minnesota Hay Bank, along with horses owners and equine experts, was recently interviewed about the hay shortage in Minnesota by the Prior Lake American newspaper.

Click on the picture to read it now:PLA

Minnesota Hay Bank Interviewed for WCCO-TV (9.25.13)

The Minnesota Hay Bank was recently interviewed about the hay shortage in Minnesota. Thanks to WCCO-TV for covering this important issue.

Click on the picture to see it now:

WCCO-TV 9.25.13

Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition Issues Statement re Prison Sentencing in Otter Tail County Criminal Horse Neglect Case (8.29.13)

Today the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition issued the following the following statement regarding the sentence of jail time for a defendant in Vergas, Minnesota (Otter Tail County) charged with criminal horse neglect:

On August 28, 2013, Otter Tail District Court Judge Waldemar B. Senyk sentenced one of the defendants in the Vergas, Minnesota criminal horse neglect case to one (1) year in prison.  The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition applauds both Judge’s Senky’s vigorous sentencing in this case and Otter Tail County Attorney David Hauser and his office for pressing charges in the first instance.

Too many times humans inflict the unthinkable on horses — they hoard, they neglect, for years on end, without repercussion, without remorse, without apology. This case, like so many others, exemplifies the inexcusable failures on the part of certain horse owners to provide for their horses most basic needs.

We hope that the sentencing and disposition of this one defendant in Otter Tail County serves as a guide for responsible horse owners and others in law enforcement, who shoulder so much of the responsibility for ensuring that justice is served for horses and individuals are held accountable for repeated practices of animal neglect and abuse.


The Statement is available in PDF at this link: MNHWC Statement re Otter Tail County Crim Case August 29, 2013

Minnesota Hay Bank Receives Grant from Canterbury Park (5.8.13)

Golden Valley, MN – May 8, 2013. The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition (MNHWC) today announced the Minnesota Hay Bank has received a grant from the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund. The grant comes at a critical time – hay prices in 2013 continue at historically high levels and are well above the average of the past decade.

The Minnesota Hay Bank was awarded the grant by the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund at a time when financial and in-kind donations are more needed than ever. Data compiled by the University of Minnesota show that in April 2013 horse-quality hay (RFV 101-125) averaged almost $260/ton, which was 50% higher than last April. The average price for this hay quality from 2001-2006 was under $80/ton. These prices, coupled with a longer-than-anticipated winter in Minnesota, has put added pressure on horse owners everywhere, but especially those already struggling to feed their horses.

“This grant comes at the perfect time—we are grateful to Canterbury Park leadership for recognizing the need and being eager to help,” said Minnesota Hay Bank co-founder Stacy Bettison. “Feed assistance applications continue in earnest —the long winter delayed available pasture this spring, and horse owners who were struggling already because of high hay prices found themselves out of feed and out of money. These funds will go directly to horses who need hay now. ”

The grant will help defray the extra burden of high hay prices that are expected to continue throughout 2013.  “The current prices could be the ‘new normal’ for hay prices going forward,” said Krishona Martinson, PhD, Equine Extension Specialist at the University of Minnesota and MNHWC member. “Some areas of the state are still experiencing drought. We are finding that many hay fields throughout the state have some winter injury and many farmers are planning to plant less acres of hay. Combined, these factors paint a picture of continued high hay prices. The Minnesota Hay Bank will continue to be an important resource for horse owners who need a little extra help to keep horses well fed and healthy.”

Since its launch six (6) months ago in December 2012, the Minnesota Hay Bank has received 23 applications for assistance to feed over 200 horses. To date, it has distributed over $13,000 in feed assistance in the form of 49 round bales, 609 small squares, 200 units of alternative feed. The Minnesota Hay Bank seeks donations at all levels to reach its fundraising goal of $30,000 for 2013. With the Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund grant, the Minnesota Hay Bank has raised $7,600 in 2013.

About the MNHWC

The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition is a group of organizations, attorneys, horse rescues, humane agents and individuals working to prevent equine neglect, abandonment and abuse. The Coalition’s work is focused on helping people needing assistance to provide for their equines and to save equines from neglect and abuse through direct support, foster care, emergency assistance and public education. The Coalition is comprised of teams dedicated to solving different aspects of the problem, including hay and feed assistance, temporary foster care, veterinary assistance, castration and euthanasia.

About Canterbury Park and Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund

Canterbury Park Racetrack and Card Casino is Minnesota’s premier entertainment destination. Located in Shakopee, Minnesota, just 25 minutes from downtown Minneapolis & St. Paul, Canterbury Park is home to Live Racing, Simulcast Racing and a 24/7 Card Casino featuring Texas Hold’em, Blackjack and more.

The Canterbury Park Minnesota Fund (CPMF) originated in 2003 to unite Canterbury Park, our employees, horsemen and vendors in a common goal to provide assistance for charities benefiting equine organizations, responsible gaming programs and local causes.  The CPMF has grown into a successful grant program, awarding more than $750,000 in grants to Minnesota organizations since its inception.


Coalition receives grant to help Fillmore horses (2.28.13)

The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition (MNHWC) today announced it has been selected to receive a $15,000 grant from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) to help care for 49 severely neglected and emaciated horses, donkeys and ponies removed from a property in southeastern Minnesota. This is considered to be the ASPCAlargest and most severe equine confiscation in an animal cruelty case in Minnesota, requiring a major effort to remove and relocate the animals. A dozen horses considered to be in the most acute condition were transported to the University of Minnesota Large Animal Hospital where six had to be humanely euthanized due to severe health complications and starvation. Criminal charges have been filed in this case. 

The ASPCA grant will fund urgently needed medical, nutritional and rehabilitation services for the 49 remaining horses. “This is a heartbreaking and disturbing case both in terms of the overall condition of the animals and also the sheer number of animals involved. There’s simply no excuse for starving or neglecting an animal,” said MNHWC member Barbara Colombo.Fillmore Horses

To maximize the reach of these funds, the MNHWC will work closely with Drew Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit organization rescuing and restoring the health of horses and other animals in distress. “Too many horses fall through the hands of irresponsible owners. We are grateful to the ASPCA for recognizing the magnitude of this case. This grant will help us fund medical supplies, hay and basic care so that one day each of these horses can be adopted by loving and caring individuals,” said Fitzpatrick.

“The ASPCA Equine Fund awards life-saving grants and resources to nonprofit equine welfare organizations across the country,” said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “It’s sad to see so many horses suffering from blatant neglect without food, water and adequate medical care , and we are pleased to award the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition this grant to assist with the care of these  horses.”

The mission of the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and improve their welfare through education, outreach and efforts of rescue and animal welfare organizations committed to the health, care, safety, rehabilitation and humane disposition of these horses.

View full news release here.

Coalition Op-Ed Published in Sunday St. Cloud Times (2.1.13)

Fillmore Horses

One of the Fillmore horses at the University of Minnesota (photo credit: Brady Willette).

Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition members wrote an opinion editorial entitled “We must take care of horses” which the St. Cloud Times published on Sunday, January 20, 2013.

In it, Coalition members Stacy Bettison and Barbara Colombo highlight the grave effects that drought and recession can have on horses, detail the recently launched Minnesota Hay Bank, and call upon all levels of law enforcement to vigorously enforce the law when horse owners abdicate their obligations to care for horses. Finally, the writers ask the public to be keenly aware of horses in our community that may need help, noting that together we must take of horses.

Read the full article.

5th Annual Castration Clinic Scheduled

The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition has announced the date and location of its 5th Annual Castration Clinic:

May 18, 2013

Carlton County Fairgrounds

Barnum, Minnesota

This clinic, offered by our Gelding Project, was launched in 2009 in response to the growing number of horse-related humane investigations. It provides castration assistance to qualifying owners facing financial hardships. Castrations are performed by veterinary students, under supervision by licensed veterinarians.

To participate in the clinic, horse and jack (male donkey) owners must meet the following criteria:

Vet students get hands-on experience to perform all aspects of the castration under the close supervision of DVMs.

  • Referred by a certified horse rescue, humane agent or their veterinarian based on an economic hardship;
  • Minnesota residents;
  • Stallions must be halter broke with two descended testicles, and at least 4 months of age (there is no upper age limit);
  • Each horse must have at least one adult or qualified handler with them at all times. (If bringing multiple horses, multiple handlers are required.);
  • For safety reasons, no children under the age of 12 are allowed onsite;
  • No dogs allowed; and
  • Castrations must be scheduled in advance.

Schedule an appointment: Contact Krishona Martinson, University of Minnesota, at 612‐625‐6776 or to make an appointment.

Make a donation: It costs the Coalition approximately $122.00/castration. We are actively seeking donations to fund this important program so we can provide castrations to as many horse owners as possible. To make a financial contribution, please contact Erin or Allison at the Animal Human Society, at 763‐412‐4957. Or, you can donate through our on-line donation page.  Be sure to specify that your donation is for the equine castration clinic.

The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition’s Equine Castration Clinic is supported by a grant from the Unwanted Horse Coalition, in-kind contributions from the Animal Humane Society, and the generous time and other in-kind donations of Coalition volunteers.

We look forward to another successful Equine Castration Clinic! Thank you for your participation and support!







Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition Launches Hay Bank

December 18, 2012 — The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition (MNHWC) today announced the launch of the Minnesota Hay Bank (MHB), a cooperative effort bringing caring citizens together, through MNHWC, to help keep horses well fed and healthy.

The MHB, based on a successful model used in other states such as Michigan and Oregon, works with reputable hay and feed suppliers throughout the state to secure hay and distribute it to prescreened, qualifying horse owners. MHB has received start-up funds from Minnesota Humane Society and a private donor totaling $3,000, and seeks an additional $7,000 in December to address emergency needs, particularly for rescues taking in large numbers of horses from recent seizure cases in Fillmore and Wright counties.

Fillmore Horse

“Hay is scarce and expensive, and temperatures continue to fall. Many horses are suffering right now, and the situation promises to worsen,” said MNHWC spokesperson Stacy Bettison. “The Minnesota Hay Bank will support responsible owners who have fallen on hard times and need temporary assistance, just like many people needing short-term help to meet the basic needs of their family. We seek donations at all levels so that we can quickly get hay to those horses in greatest need.”

Also today, the MNHWC released photographs it obtained of two horses that remain at the University of Minnesota for ongoing care following the seizure of 55 horses from a Fillmore County ranch. These two horses were among 12 who arrived at the University in need of emergency care. Since their arrival, five horses have had to be humanely euthanized. Fillmore Horses

“These images of the Fillmore horses show us in stark detail what happens when humans domesticate horses, put them behind a fence and then fail to provide for their most basic needs,” said Bettison. “Horses have rights under the law, and we call upon all law enforcement to enforce Minnesota’s animal cruelty law vigorously. We applaud the Fillmore County Attorney for bringing criminal charges against this horse owner. Too many times repeat offenders inflict the unthinkable on horses — they hoard, they neglect, for years on end, without repercussion, without remorse,

Fillmore Horses

without apology. Today’s criminal charges affirm that horse ownership is a privilege, and it comes with legal obligations that are not to be trifled with.”

The MNHWC is compiling resources at for law enforcement and the public that will enable active and attentive steps to help ensure horse welfare. MNHWC is analyzing legislative reform for greater enforcement of animal cruelty laws and aggressive prosecution of violations.

To donate to the MHB, visit