April 2014 Issue - page 1

LANC., PA 17604
Vol. 21 No.4
Our 21st Year
April 2014
The Pennsylvania Equine Council spring newsletter ...
pgs. 30-31
Locals headed to the KY Derby: Samraat, Ring
Weekend... pg. 7
Lancaster screenwriter plans a new film on eventing ...
pg. 10
Thorncroft celebrates 45 years of serving disabled and
able-bodied riders...pg. 8
... and much more!
by Suzanne Bush
On February 20, Lycoming
County Humane Police Officer
Larry Woltz seized eight horses
from a farm in Linden, PA. It was
the culmination of an investiga-
tion that Woltz says began in
2007. From beginning to end, the
story of these horses is a chron-
icle of everything that is wrong
and many things that are right
about the business of protecting
animals from the things people
do to them.
The eight horses taken from
the farm owned by Joni and Ted
Fink were neglected, starving
and suffering from open sores
on their backs and rotting feet.
Two dead horses had been buried
under manure between two barns
on the property.
Absent Owners
Unaware of Neglect
Woltz says that the Finks
were running a boarding opera-
tion at their farm. He has filed
charges against them, but also
against the owners who were
paying the Finks to take care of
their horses. “In order for us to
possibly secure all eight horses
I filed citations on everybody—
Joni, Ted, the boarders,” he
explains. He said he was follow-
ing legal precedents in equine
law. Legally he could not seize
horses that were not owned by
the farm, unless he charged the
absent owners of the horses that
were also seized.
Among the horses taken
from the farm were two that be-
longed to the Finks and three that
belonged to their daughter. The
Finks and their daughter have
voluntarily forfeited ownership
of their horses.
Two of the horses—stal-
lions—belong to a man from
West Chester, who Woltz says
had not seen the animals in more
six months. He had been pay-
ing monthly board to the Finks.
Boarders Charged, Horses Seized from Former Lycoming County Rescue
A woman from South Carolina
claimed ownership of another
horse. She, too, had been paying
board to the Finks, but had not
seen her horse in a long time.
Both of these owners retain own-
ership of their horses.
“There’s a hearing scheduled
for April 10,” Woltz says. “We’re
hoping to have everybody there.
So our normal procedure is that
we try to get forfeiture, which
is written in the law.” Forfeiture
would permit the farm that is now
caring for the horses to find new
owners and get compensation for
all they’ve invested in the care
and rehabilitation.
Legislation passed last year
in Pennsylvania permits rescues
and humane organizations to seek
compensation for care of seized
animals from the farms where
the animals had been neglected
and abused. But that legislation
ultimately provides leverage that
persuades owners to forfeit their
animals. Too often the neglect
and resulting starvation of ani-
mals arises from farm owners’
inability to pay for proper care.
The horses that Woltz took
from the Fink farm were in des-
perate condition, three of them
were scored a 1 on the Henneke
scale, according to Pamela Koch,
who operates Appalachian Horse
Help and Rescue in Linden. “Ev-
ery day they seem to be improv-
ing,” she says. “Three of them
are really, really bad yet. It takes
about a year for them to recover.
Their feet were rotted. They had
no frogs.” Koch says that the
horses have been receiving vet-
erinary care, hoof care and a lot
of compassionate attention.
A Long, Sad Story
The Finks had been op-
erating a horse rescue at their
farm from 2007 until 2012. “I
had continuous issues with that
rescue,” Woltz says, “and every
year from 2007 to 2012 I went to
their place; and the situation pro-
gressed from nothing serious to a
point where you felt the law was
being broken and we had grounds
to seize animals.” He says that
it is not as easy as people like to
think for the police and Humane
Police Officers to go into a farm
and start taking animals.
“It was an open file for all
that time because I felt eventually
it would come to a point where
it was severe neglect.” He said
that when the rescue, which was
called Back in the Saddle Horse
Adoption closed, the Finks start-
ed boarding horses, and they also
started buying and selling horses
through auction. He said that the
Lycoming County SPCA was
alerted to eroding conditions at
the farm by a man who had taken
three horses there for board-
ing. “They were there for about
a month and he saw conditions
deteriorate,” Woltz says. “Two
horses had died. He removed his
horses immediately and called
here. That information is what I
used, plus past experiences with
that particular property, to obtain
a search warrant.”
He says that the conditions
at the farm were bad, but that the
private property rights of individ-
uals must be respected. He points
out that Humane Police Officers
and the organizations they work
for are frequently criticized by
the public when animal abuse
cases are not solved and fixed
quickly. But these cases must be
resolved using very precise legal
remedies. Too often when the
documentation is faulty and war-
rants are not properly obtained,
animals wind up being returned
to the people who abused them.
It’s a methodical process that tries
(Continued on page 29)
Eight horses were seized from the former Back in the Saddle Horse Adoption, which has oper-
ated as a boarding stable since 2012, by the Lycoming County, PA Humane Police in late Febru-
ary. Three of the seized horses were owned by boarders, who were also charged with neglect
so that their horses could be removed from the premises. The farm’s owners have voluntarily
forfeited ownership of the five owned by them and their daughter.
Equine Health Care, Nutrition &
Therapy feature ... pgs. 14-24
1 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,...40
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