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Shocking Image Strikes at core of AWP problem

Published: 5/25/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

 A few horse advocates have worked together to produce a shocking t-shirt as a fund-raising endeavor for equine welfare. It shows a starving mare, standing over her dead foal. It reads: "Maine, where it hurts to be a horse...Nothing Wrong Here!"
It cuts right to the heart of the issues surrounding Maine's Animal Welfare Program.

Different people use different methods to bring attention to AWP's horrendous shortfalls. We all have our opinions and tactics. Some of us like diplomacy and official channels. Some like to vent, but are otherwise disenfranchised by formal processes. Some sit back as observers and let others do the talking.
Janet Tuttle, who runs Rockin' T Equine Rescue in Lisbon Falls, doesn't fit into any of these categories. She'll tell anyone who'll listen exactly where she stands on equine welfare. She's a bit of a pitbull. And she's been passionately saving horses for decades.

I like Janet.

I like her because she's all about what's right for the horse.
Ain't the most graceful diplomat around. Probably a lousy card player, too. Bluffing and keeping cards close to her chest are not how she plays.

Everything's out on the table with Janet. I like that, too.

Kudos to Janet and her friends for putting together an effort which combines fund-raising with horse advocacy. I can't stomach the t-shirt, but even so, the check's in the mail!

Click here for t-shirt graphic

Writes Jan Marconi of Triple J Farm in Bowdoin:

The purpose of the t-shirt is to raise awareness regarding the inadequate response by AWP to the welfare of Maine's equines. I know this is a very graphic picture and is bothersome, but the goal is to draw attention .. and yes, disgust ... to point the blame in the proper direction - AWP.

This mare was one of 27 horses who perished in Brookville, Maine. The situation was reported to Norma - AWP - and their lack of interest and true investigation led to the eventual death of all the horses.
The horses had been moved around ... to a place in Sullivan for a while .. then back. Eventually, State veterinarian Don Hoenig made a 'statement' that the horses had been poisoned ... It was a pretty typical 'Keystone Cops' investigation and cover up.
Janet wanted was to show a horse that had fallen through the cracks of indifference ... Had to be a horse that perished directly relating to AWP not doing their job ... a horse that had been reported ... and left behind ... So, this was the one she chose.

I know this may not have been the public's choice of a picture to see or display, but sometimes the truth hurts ...

The shirts can be purchased by making a $20.00 donation to Rockin T Equine Rescue, 60 Edgecomb Rd, Lisbon, Maine 04250 .. Add $2.00 if mailing is required. All proceeds benefit Rockin T Equine Rescue ...

View Reader Comments:

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5/26/2010 Arlene Walker
no thanks!if i had the money to send I would you can keep the T.
5/26/2010 Deb V
I doubt if you're going to make much with a picture like that on a T-shirt. I think your hearts are in the right place but you seem a bit radical. What parent would buy a t-shirt for their daughters or sons to wear with that on it, even if it is for a "cause"?
5/26/2010 Janan
I agree with Deb V. and Arlene, also this is not just a Maine problem and there are many good horse homes in Maine. If you want to make a point direct it at the guilty not all of us in the state
5/26/2010 Darlene
Maybe ....omit the picture and use WELCOME TO MAINE WHERE ANIMAL WELFARE MAKE $$$$$$ AND SIT ON THERE A#$%$#$ AND DO NOTHING!!!!
5/26/2010 Missy
I had to go out to the paddock and spend some time with my horse, collect my thoughts, breath deeply, get my BP down, before I responded to this. First off, thank you Maddy, for posting the t-shirt. Second, thank you Jan, for explaining the intent. Now, my two cents. This shirt represents REALITY people! This is a real horse (now dead, thank you AWP) and mourning her dead foal (thanks again AWP). If you can't face the agony that Maine's starving, abused, freezing, neglected horses are suffering daily, then you are not true advocates for the horses that have had blind eyes turned on them, for far too many years. You bet we're radical and it comes from decades of being ignored when doing it the PC way. Radical is not, by definition, a bad thing, as you infer. It's a call for rapid and sweeping changes. Maine horses need "radical" NOW!
5/28/2010 Everet
I guess you are right when you are talking radical. Radical means arising from a root or source; drastic; extreme. The t-shirt is drastic/extreme. More support monies would be realized if you had shown just the mare. In public, children don't need to see that illustration. They have not been exposed to that type of thing unless they are from a farm. A child can easily have nightmares from this type of thing. Thus, alienating them and the parents. Do you want that?
5/28/2010 Elaine
I would think Rockin' T Equine would be worried about supporters of their facility once they see this radical T-shirt. "Creating a haven of peace, support, and security soothing enough to heal even the deepest wounds..." portrays tranquility for the horses, whereas the t-shirts brings on the nightmares and tells me the person that represents the t-shirt is hardened and harsh. Sometimes our feelings get in the way of our judgement.
5/28/2010 Missy
I'm totally bewildered by the reality brick wall that that you've hit. I'm working on compromise and enlightenment here. Your definition of radical to be "arising from a root or source; drastic, extreme". The root is AWP. The extreme is what "we" have had to resort to, due to inaction on the state's/AWP behalf. We are not torching buildings, picketing the state house (yet), converging on the lawns of those who are ineffectual. We have played by the rules, in thoughtful and deliberate fashion, and it has gotten us NOWHERE! The time came to bump it up a notch. I reiterate, the t-shirt is reality. This isn't the only mare that has met this fate. Nor is her baby. Wanna hear the story of the mare who watched her foal get eaten by coyotes? Children DO need to see this and ask questions as to WHY this is allowed to continue! The children are our horse guardians of the future. You don't have to be a farm kid to love horses and care about their welfare. I wasn't. As far as Rockin' T goes, that IS a safe haven for countless equines over the years, that have been shunned by AWP. Have you ever been there? Met Janet? If not, I suggest you stop by and hear some stories that would rock you back on your heels. Rockin' T would have saved this mare but was denied. Everytime both of you post, I say I'm not going to reply, because you are so totally clueless and not worth my time. Then I remember that others are reading this and I am compelled to set the record straight. Your unawareness does nothing to help the crisis that Maine horses are facing.
5/28/2010 Jan
Time to get out of the ivory towers folks .. and get a taste of reality!! Abuse like this happens everywhere - abuse knows no bounds. Most kids see much worse on TV and their video games. Just because you don't 'see' it .. doesn't mean it didn't happen! As Missy stated, you should go introduce yourselves to Janet - see the pictures and hear the stories and then tell us that you still feel the same. I'd almost bet that you'd take off running, appalled at what you saw! It's real folks .. as much as you want to bury your head - it's real. Now, how do you explain this to your kids?? What do you say to your kids when they see some poor animal starved, hurt and in pain and no one does anything to help?? Remember: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -Gandhi "There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." -Denis Waitley We're making the right choice .. drastic or not!!! What have some of you done lately to affect change, help animals .. or even help humans??
5/28/2010 Margy
I know this T-shirt is grahphic but it states a very sad truth and reality. And it's not stopping it's getting worse because in this state the animal welfare laws are not enforced when it comes to horses and livestock. That is reality. As for "nightmares" children these days get exposed to a lot worse than this t-shirt just by watching television commercials. It's real,it's out there, the reason it's out there is because too many want to be ostriches and bury their heads in the sand instead of stepping up and enforcing the laws. Janet has been trying to get the laws enforced for more years than I can remember right at this point and nothing has changed in the regard to laws applying to the welfare of horses and livestock in this state in 20 years! Toot the horn all you want about our great laws they aren't worth the paper they are printed on if AWP and law enforcement won't enforce them.
5/30/2010 Joy
A picture is worth a thousand words and over the years "words" have failed so many horses in the State of Maine. Perhaps this is what it's going to take to make people all over Maine realize that there is a huge injustice going on with their tax dollars and it's time for them to speak up and do something about it. Pulling the covers up over our heads doesn't stop these animals from being hungry, cold and in need of assistance. There are currently 20 horses in my area that have (1) small three sided shelter where they are located and NO running water on the property. WHY is nothing being done about this? It's right in the Maine laws that horses HAVE to be provided with a 3 sided shelter big enough to lie down in out of the elements. This situation was brought to the attention of Norma Worley last year and nothing was done. These horses spent their winter living amongst the trees...last fall there were 40 of them...wonder where the rest are now??? Do you supposed that ANYONE in animal welfare knows? I doubt it!
5/31/2010 Everet
I agree it is hard to set the story straight when the facts are miscontrued. I disagree on the fact that a person is not worth my time just because there is a difference of opinion.
6/1/2010 Missy
"Facts" have not been misconstrued by myself, Jan, Margy, or Joy. I repeat, everything can/has been backed up by documentation and often photos. My point, regarding wasting time, is that my energies are better spent advocating for the horses in need, who will soon be facing another Maine winter in horrific conditions, than debating with someone who refuses to accept the reality. Perhaps, someday, you'll have that "aha!" moment. Maine horses could use your perseverance.
6/1/2010 Joy
I will never forget the day that I brought Sam home from the "hell" that was his life....the life of pain and misery that continued far longer than it had to because our AWP personnel either had no idea what they were looking at when they were there OR they swept him under the rug like they've done time and time again over the years. Sam died needlessly at the hands of many who had their own agendas and because of that he suffered. I will never forget the relief that he had while here, if even for a very short period of time, and "I" sleep well at night knowing that I did everything that I could do for him after so many others did nothing. It's time for a change.....
6/3/2010 Everet
Anyway, shall we get back to helping horses instead of trying to second guess a person who you think has "reality" or might have an "aha" moment? The reality is: Horses need rescueing but you can't think you are a law unto yourself.
6/3/2010 Joan
Starving and neglected horses are on the rise and everyone, not just horselovers should be appalled. I am torn by the picture on this t-shirt. While it is necessary for people to know the extent of the reality it will of course also turn some people away, no doubt about it. Is it worth the price? Undoubtedly. People have stood by time and time again waiting for Animal Welfare to step in and protect the horses. Horses are still dying so it seems that the current system is broken. In order for it to be fixed, one has to first admit it is broken. It seems in order for that to be recognized you have to stand up and large numbers. I would say that the picture on that shirt certainly stands up and shouts. The situation has arrived at this level of "in your face" due to continued inaction of the state of Maine to save horses. If the laws that govern the AW are what's interfering in the job, then we, as horse owners and lovers need to shout until someone agrees to sponsor a bill to change how business is done here in the state of Maine. Will this T-shirt help in that endeavor? I'm not sure. I think it will cause people to migrate to a this side or that side stance, which won't be helpful for the horses. Certainly, by all of us banding together and letting our collective voices be heard by our government representatives that the time has arrived for action, only then, with the power of numbers, will action be taken. Keeping seperate in small groups and being loud here and there isn't enough. It takes more than a few outraged people, it takes organization, planning and time to force change, a good change, a lasting change. We all need to remember that we all have a common goal, none of us want another horse to suffer for one more minute. Do you want to be the loudest and only voice heard? Or do you want the power of numbers across this state of many people complaining to their ACO's, Legislators, State Rep.'s, friends, the public, etc.??? I think we all know through experience that it's through the outcry of many that you accomplish change. Ghandi didn't accomplish what he did alone....and neither will we. Better to fight together.
6/3/2010 Jan
We don't believe we're a 'law unto ourselves' .. We only want the laws to be enforced! I don't see what you don't understand! We are pushing to get consistent enforcement and prosecution!! The news that DA Evert Fowle received a warrant to remove, and has removed several endangered animals from FPF today is monumental! Unless you understand and know the inner details of this seizure, you will never appreciate the power of the 'horse' people in this State. Depositions, evidence, statements, emails, photos and other evidence poured in from dozens of people. I can only imagine the hours spent pouring over all the documentation, scrutinizing all the details until the DA was confident he had sufficient evidence to request the warrant. We can only hope that this is the beginning! All the people in the horse community who have emailed the Governor, DA, Reps .. everyone .. You should be proud of your selves .. A quote from one of my earlier posts -"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -Gandhi Maybe we're winning now!! At least winning a little justice for these poor horses!!! WTG everyone!!!
6/5/2010 cc
i feel the tee shirt is reality of what is going on in the world not just maine but i do have to say i have seen my share of animal abuse and ran a small out of pocket rescue here .and my children would ask mom why is this horse so thin or why is it all banged up my kids have seen first hand what man has done to animals and im glad they have i do not regret one moment of it the kids are the horses future and all animals future if everyone put blinders on where would all this be? horses, animals dying all over the place and our kids looking the other way cause there parents did my daughter would freak if we did not stop to help a animal on the side of the road even a turtle im glad my kids eyes are open and my children would wear those tee shirts and not have nightmares it is the real world we live in as sad as it sounds and my kids are living in it and will be right beside the janets of the world to help where they can cause that is the way i raised them to be to care and not look away when things are bad to jump in and help and im very proud of them .im sure a few wont agree with this but thats ok cause i dont agree with some of the things people do either .
6/19/2010 Sonja
Janet you are a wonderful person. Don't give up the fight for these beautiful animals. I like the way you are too!! Your cards right on the table, not a politician with two sides to his or her mouth. Good Luck.

"An owner of a Tennessee Walking Horse once said that his horse reminded him of a lightning rod, for, as he rode, all the sorrows of his heart flowed down through the splendid muscles of his horse and were grounded in the earth." - Marguerite Henry