Horses find greener pastures

Published 7:31 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Mt. Pleasant trio has been moved to greener pastures, according to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In response to citizen concerns that three horses in a field on Mt. Pleasant Road in Bogalusa were apparently starving, the WPSO, under new Sheriff Randy Seal, found a way to move them to safety, and in the process, an ongoing partnership was formed.

With a lack of available funding for veterinary care and feed, and with no plan in place to provide for the placement and care of any seized animals, the WPSO was initially stumped by the problem.

But it didn’t give up, and neither did Jeff Dorson, executive director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, who heard about the alleged abuse, tried one approach with the sheriff’s office and then tried another.

“We contacted the sheriff’s office and let him know we would like to create a working relationship,” Dorson said. “He said that under his watch these types of complaints will be taken seriously.

“I offered resources, networking capabilities, and said we could pay some bills on a case-by-case basis because I know his budget is tight.”

Now the HSL and the WPSO “concur on a regular basis” and the animal advocates are even given copies of animal complaint reports, he said.

“It’s a good relationship,” Dorson said. “It’s all positive and we appreciate the opportunity to work with them.

“The community and law enforcement are taking these things seriously. The people want this partnership. They don’t want animals suffering.”

The trio of boney horses on Mt. Pleasant Road was the first to benefit from the new team’s efforts.

“The sheriff called the owner and he said he wasn’t able to take care of the horses as well as he needed to,” said Lauren Ritchie, Seal’s secretary. “He asked if the sheriff could find someone to take them.”

He did. The three are now on a horse farm and “doing fine,” said WPSO Deputy Chief Jeff Boehm. The rescuer wishes to remain publically anonymous, but Dorson plans to follow up and to offer guidance or veterinary care if needed.

Meanwhile, the WPSO has “become horse wranglers,” and has been “getting call after call” since news of the horses’ plight got out, Ritchie said.. Deputies have responded to multiple additional complaints. In one case a horse was believed to be dead in a field on Louisiana Highway 60, but it turned out that the animal has a deformity and lies down a lot.

Importantly, the deputies are answering the calls that will save lives.

“We are going to enforce the laws,” said Boehm. “We are going to write citations, send them in and get them prosecuted. And we’re working with the parish and private people on what to do with the animals.”

Ritchie said, “We’ve got a system now.”

WPSO employee and horsewoman Alicia Harvin, who vouched for the anonymous rescuer, has become the horse “champion” in the sheriff’s office, she said.

Harvin is in regular contact with Dorson and she’s compiling a list of horse owners who are willing to help an animal in need. To contact her, call 839-3434.

“We’re here to help anybody from the smallest animal to the biggest criminal,” said Ritchie.

Dorson is obviously happy to be involved for the sake of the animals. He sent out a mass email Friday that included: “Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am pleased to inform you that we have established a very good, working relationship with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office…”