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Horse Welfare Survey Results

Published: 2/19/2010
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We're very concerned: we're ready to help

By Maddy B. Gray

Scores of readers responded to a NickerNews survey distributed earlier this week. We poled readers on their sentiments surrounding the situation at Fair Play Farm, in Clinton, Maine, and the state's response to that crisis.
[The state has maintained it is investigating and working with Alexis and Brett Ingraham to resolve issues there. In other words, they have not seized any of the neglected horses we witnessed last week.]

In addition, we poled readers for their ability and willingness to respond individually to this crisis.
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First, the bad news.

Here are some preliminary figures from the respondents:

Eighty-six percent told NickerNews they are Maine residents and tax payers. Seventy-eight percent are Mainers registered to vote.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied with Animal Welfare’s response to reports and complaints at Fair Play Farm.

NickerNews asked survey participants if they had ever filed a complaint with Animal Welfare.
More than a third said they had filed complaints. Those complaints concerned farms throughout Maine and included Rockport, Bar Harbor, Burnham, Danforth, Cumberland, Anson, Jay, Topsham, and Stetson and covered many years, dating back as far as 2002.

An overwhelming majority responded they were not satisfied with Animal Welfare’s response to their specific complaints.

And now, the good news.

In the second section, participants were asked if and how they could help.
A whopping 86 percent told NickerNews they might be able to or definitely could help in some way.
Many noted donations of money, hay, grain, shaving, transports, and foster homes.
Most said they would not require payment for their contributions.
Of those ready to help, 25 respondents said they could foster one or more horses. Those respondents provided vet references, farm descriptions and contact numbers…Another 36 said they might be able to foster horses.
Stay tuned, we are working with equine rescue agencies and others to form a network of those ready and able.

The hunch was Maine was full of vocal, compassionate, articulate, and enthusiastic horse owners and horse lovers. Turns out Maine has all that and more!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

View Reader Comments:

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2/19/2010 Meris
Thank you, Maddy. Your willingness to use NickerNews as both an outlet and a collection point for information about the functioning Maine's animal welfare system has been of tremendous service to the community of horse people here in Maine. Hopefully your hard work and the efforts of all those who care about our horses will result in something positive for the animals.
2/19/2010 Margy
I'm afraid these "bad news" results didn't come as a very big surprise. Now the question rises how can this be rectified? The Advistory Council can't help as the Dept of Agriculture won't let them do what is described in the laws for them to do they can't even advise the Commissioner. Apparently there is no one who "oversees or supervises the day-to-day operations of the Animal Welfare Program." Other than Ms. Worley. I thought she answered to the Commissioner of Agriculture, however in emails addressed to the Commissioner he sends them to Ms. Worley to be answered. To me that indicates she doesn't answer to anyone, that is not a good thing there needs to be a supervising authority for AWP not just one person. We need to find the avenue to address the lack of response by AWP.
2/19/2010 Margy
I wanted to put this separate from the other post HOORAY! For the good news. This shouldn't really have been a suprise either, it wasn't to me.
2/19/2010 Brandy
Well as all of all ready know, Horse People are the Best Kind of People!!!! I am so glad everyone is willing to set up and help, now if only our state would step in and do there job. I keep calling and get no responce other than what has been written for the sec. to read from. Sad. I also left 2 messages for the state vet to call me back to answer questions, no return call. It is like getting him to sign a health cert. he can't be bothered. One can only hope, keep pressure on our Rep/congress and everyone running for office might listen and step up.
I think just about every state has many people willing to help in cases like this; the state agencies just want to be able to hog full control of the situation and not allow the people, who are paying them to do their job, to help. I think they like to look like they are in control but it's obvious to anyone looking on that they are far from having the situation under control. They completely undermine people's ability to or willingness to help because they don't want to look like they have dropped the ball, but anyone who has time to find out can see that the situation is out of control and needs to be brought to heel.
2/19/2010 Janet Tuttle
Maddy thank you for doing this to help the horses you have been a great help getting it out there i pray for the sake of the animals in this state that people do not give up . These poor animals depend on all of us to help them so please people make noise the animals need you . thanks again maddy you are a great person Janet
2/20/2010 Suzanne
Thank you Maddy for bringing this situation to light with compassion and honesty. I'm looking forward to helping with these horses when their day comes and hoping it will come soon.
2/20/2010 Kim
If you are going to put laws in place you better be willing to back it up and follow through every time. It's like telling children that they cannot be abused because the system won't allow it but then not really doing anything to protect them in the end. False hope? I feel worse for animals that are abuse than anything else because they worship their's unfair
2/20/2010 Jan
Another example of how well the 'horse community' can pull together. WTG Maine folks ... When the going gets tough .. the tough get going!!!
2/20/2010 Christine Giguere
Thank You Maddy for being so on the ball with this whole mess. Without you, your take action approach, your blog, your equine heart and more, those horses voices would never have been heard and things would have continued on as was. Now the state has to do their job and work with the farm to clean up their act,
2/20/2010 Chris
Good for us!!! Now lets see what happens!!
2/22/2010 Katie Lisnik
Let's hope people's willigness to get involved here will translate into a willingness to get involved with the new Maine Equine Welfare Coalition....Invites will be coming soon..
2/23/2010 Estelle
Thank you Maddy for being such a strong voice for the horses and using your website to try to help and to organize help. You have some great Karma built up! You're awesome!
2/27/2010 Gina Hoffses
I think it is time to take some action to fix the problem at hand. Since Norma Worley is not answerable to anyone at the state and the commissioner can't be bothered, it is time we get a petition started to have both of these wastes of taxpayers money removed. We pay taxes to cover salaries of these two inept people in OUR government so let's step up to the plate here. Change needs to begin at the top so that these animal welfare laws are enforced. I would also like to see new laws instituted that require ANY "rescue facility" to go through a thorough inspection process whether they ask for donations or not. These dealers out there know that Maine is easy to get around the laws in place and they network with each other to make a quick buck. Perhaps a tax on each head of horses needs to be implemented to help fund the program so that reliable inspectors can be hired to enforce the laws. All animal rescues need to be monitored to eliminate the collectors, dealers & animal mill operators period. I also think that ANY animal control officer needs to have a background check, training and licensure as well. I've lived in Waldoboro most of my life and was so grateful that the previous animal control officer was finally replaced. I dealt with him bothering my relatives to shoot Canadian geese in their backyard. I personally dealt with the fool standing on the sidewalk in front of my house at 6:00 a.m. one morning firing a rifle in my field. He was hunting ground hogs in the middle of town with a Waldoboro Police officer joining him! It seems we have too many morons like this statewide taking positions as animal control officers. No regard for any animal and looking to get paid to kill something. Any advice on where to begin, please let me know. I've had it and want to make a change!

"There are no problem horses, only problem riders" - Mary Twelveponies