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.
“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.
“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,
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 www.MinnesotaHorseWelfare.org 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 www.MinnesotaHayBank.org.