Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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F23 & F24 - 11 months and 8 months 

A little over a week and 1/2 ago, MHWF was asked by county authorities to assist in an investigation involving a large herd of horses, almost all of which were very thin, covered in rain rot and several already dead, still laying out, decomposing in the pasture. Our job was to catch each horse, photograph it and assist the veterinarian in taking notes on each horse as well as getting blood for Coggins testing and lab work. We did that on Saturday 11/3.

Several days later we were once again asked to assist in rounding up the horses and give our help in loading them up into trailers to bring them to a holding facility, which we did. While we will not answer questions as to where this was, mention who the people were or what the circumstances were, we will say that the situation was one of the worst we have ever seen and in the end, MHWF opted to bring two of the most critical young horses here to our facility to give them the best shot at survival. These two have now been with us since the middle of last week. So far both are eating and drinking ok, have been de-wormed once and have had their feet trimmed. They both have a long hard road ahead of them and we have to be very careful to make sure they do not get over-fed and go into re-feeding syndrome, so the next couple of weeks are critical.

This will not be a quick rehab for these two youngsters and they will almost certainly be here long term. In the meantime, we are starting them on grass hay and as they get stronger, we can start to introduce grain into their diet slowly, working them up to larger amounts, then can start to think about vaccinations, dental work, etc. Both are super sweet, very easy to work with and are just happy to have food and water in front of them, something they have not had in their short and terribly neglect-filled lives.

We obviously had not anticipated taking on two hard cases at the very worst time of the year, but being that they were so critical and needed a place to go that has dealt with this sort of thing before, we felt that we needed to help them and bring them here. If you can help out by making a small donation toward their long term care, we certainly welcome the help. We already have a significant amount into these two already, between making multiple trips to the site where they came from, to hauling them, feeding them, bedding, trimming, etc. Whatever help we can get as far as donations would be greatly appreciated.

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How sad!  Donation on the way.
Scott: MHWF
Thank you Geraldine....again 😉

I know it is hard to tell from the photos, but these two are really, really thin.....body score of 1. They are covered in rain rot, head to toe, had not been trimmed and are completely malnourished. They are very much touch and go at the moment and are what we would call critical, especially with them being so young.
Donation sent via pay pal.  This just makes me sick!
Poor babies...donation sent.
Carina P.
What is going to happen to the other horses?? Will they be sent to another rescue or will the county help them?? Thank you for helping these poor souls
Awww what sweet babies...I’ll be sending something soon
Nanc K.
Donation has been sent. My heart goes out to all those poor horses. God bless you for all the work you do for these animals.
Sue J
Payment sent. Thank you for making room for these two. Sad to think about the others that passed in such a horrific way and what the fate will be for the remaining horses.
They look like they are Arabian or at least part Arabian.  No matter.  This is just disgusting especially to let the deceased animals decay in with the rest of the herd.    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!
Donation on the way.
I believe these are the persons concerned.


WTMJ radio station in Milwaukee, is reporting today, about a large case in central Wisconsin, of neglect of 3 dozen horses, located in. Strongs Prairie. Two women are being charged.  I'm betting that this is the source of these two fillies. I'll bet that more news stations, tv and radio will pick this up.
Scott: MHWF
Just about every TV station in the area and beyond has called asking for an interview. We won't be doing an interview though, the case speaks for itself.
Julie St
absolutely heartbreaking , sending donation out today...
I figured MHWF would be there to assist + others.


Please keep us posted on their recovery [smile]
This breaks my heart in so many ways. [bawl]

Thank you Scott and Karen for all of your hard work and dedication.  You give these horses a voice and a real chance at a good life.  I know this case is just one of many, and they are never easy to deal with, but thank you for your involvement.  You guys make a difference!!!! 
Suzanne McKichan, DVM

I want to publicly thank the Adams County Sheriff's Department for making sure the surviving horses are safe and recognizing the severity of this situation. It is hard to express what a monumental task it was, and still is, to get the surviving horses to a safe situation for even the short term. It is logistically difficult, legally a complicated process, and of course expensive to feed and care for this many horses. A lot of small departments would have balked at the challenge, but they proceeded to do what was best for the horses, and for that I am very grateful.

Another thank you goes to Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation for assisting the Sheriff's Department and I in many ways as they have a lot of experience in cases like this. 

Thank you to many others who have helped or were willing to. There is still a long road ahead as far as ensuring the safety of the horses, and eventually, final placement.

I am sorry we are unable to answer many of your questions.  It is best for the integrity of the case, and ultimately the horses, if we let Adams County Sheriff's Dept. decide which information is released.  I will say it again, that they are doing a great job given a really difficult situation, and they deserve our thanks and our support. 

If you want to help financially, there are a few ways.  First is a tax-deductible donation to MHWF.  You can also contribute to the medical expenses and investigation costs by making a payment at dellsequine.com (designate it on behalf of the Adams County Sheriff's Dept).  Or you can even ask the Adams County Sheriff's Department if they can accept a monetary donation to help with all the enormous costs of all this. 

Do you have personal, first hand information that the judge should know about the care these horses have received in the past (good or bad)?  Do you feel that, if convicted, sentencing should be the maximum penalty, or should the judge be lenient?  Do you have an opinion about whether they should be able to own horses again, or get their horses back?  Do you feel that an owner's health issues should factor in to sentencing?  Do you feel that the handling and outcome of this case has a bearing for the welfare of other horses in, or at risk of, the same plight?  Do you think WI laws are strong enough to protect animals?  Do you think animal owners should have more rights and power in these situations? 

Facebook comments aren't going to cut it.  Write a letter to the judge.  Speak up.  Come to the court proceedings.  Pay attention to how all of this unfolds.  Tell your government representatives/legislators how you feel and ask them to come to the court proceedings and learn about this case.  I think there is opportunity for everyone to make a difference.  Thank you.


I'm sorry to say that I didn't think of the costs incurred by the Adams County Sheriff's office.  I've sent a small donation via Dells Equine.
Suzanne McKichan, DVM
Thank you for that donation.  Yes, sheriff's departments only have so much money to spend, just like the rest of us.  Cases like this get expensive quickly which sometimes limits their ability to respond, investigate, and pursue charges. Your donation is very much appreciated.
Jan N
It is not unusual for County costs to get into the 6-figure range for complex seizure situations involving large numbers of horses. This is especially likely if the seized animals must be boarded at commercial facilities. I know because I (peripherally) assisted in one such situation many years ago.

Often these animals are in county custody for months to (Gasp) a year or more while things get sorted through the legal system and, sadly, delays even in well-managed and "straightforward" cases are the norm. It's not a plot, it just is what it is. I am so thankful Adam's County officials decided to take this on. They deserve our support!

It is not wrong to be upset, after all...the animals are in "ownership limbo" as the county's legal case proceeds, but please understand it is best to channel that upset into positive, energetic action on behalf of the horses. The legal system is charged with protecting *both* defendant and victim rights, so the prosecutor(s) have to dot their i's and cross their t's through the entire process. The defense counsel likewise is absolutely charged with providing solid representation of the defendants. Being mad at the "system" is a waste of energy.

Extreme thanks to Dr. Suzanne! She no doubt is spending a great deal of precious time documenting and record-keeping. Respect goes her way for responding to what was a dire emergency, and for the time she will likely spend in testimony, etc. in the future. There are heroes out there and she is one of them.

Action: Write the judge. Look at Dr. Suzanne's list above and tell the judge about your feelings and recommendations on one, two, maybe All of Dr Suzanne's points.

Action: Donate. It all counts. Donate. I'll email Scott and Karen on getting some info re: a practical way to get donations made directly to the horses' care.

Action: Get yourself informed. Wisconsin has rather weak cruelty statutes. This needs change. I was a small part of the most recent tightening and clarification of the animal "cruelty" statute and it must be 10 or more years ago. MORE is needed. NONE of it will happen without sustained involvement of loads of everyday people. Email or snail mail your WI assembly person and senator! I will come back and post the website links for lookup for you.

Action: STAY informed. Last year the Sterling Rachwal case generated a large and sustained response from Wisconsin citizens. Lots of regular folk took time off to go to Madison and testify at Assembly and Senate committee hearings. If you, I, we don't speak for the horses, nothing will change. The bill was voted out of the Senate committee and went into the queue for introduction on the floor for a vote to become law, but was not introduced before the session ended. THIS year, the bill is likely to be reintroduced. YOU can be part of helping this type of legislation succeed. YOU are needed.

I will come back and post the link to the State Legislature site where you can sign up for email notifications of pending action on bills that are in the pipeline. Multiple law enforcement members testified on Rachwal bill last year - prosecutor, sheriff's dept. investigators, etc, and they want want want!! better statutes so they can actually charge and then argue for convictions appropriate to the cruelty or neglect the animals suffered.

It is after all, only people like you and me who can change things for the better for horses. They need our help. Will you take a part?
I want to pass on a message from the Sheriff's Department regarding sending any donations to them.  They said, "People wishing to make a donation for that should be sent directly to the foundations that are caring for the horses. That way the Sheriff’s office isn’t involved in deciding who gets what."  

Having said that, I'd like to give you an update on these two little precious souls that we are caring for.  

The smaller and younger filly (F24) is gaining strength.  She was very weak and wobbly when we brought her home and we even had to help her up once when she got in a position in her stall where she couldn't manage to get up herself.  We've been watching her very closely and checking on her frequently (both of them).  While we can't see much for visible weight gain at this point, we are happy that both of them are more alert and gaining strength.  They both are completely covered in the rain rot (dermatophilosis) which is going to take a long time to recover and heal, and anywhere there is skin that doesn't have rain rot sores clumped together is full of dandruff.  As they start gaining more strength and building their immune system up, that will help a lot.  They also both had lice, but it looks like that is killed off now.  They are still eating a diet of hay and we are slowly introducing a ration balancer (which has vitamins and minerals) to their diet at this point, and will eventually add some feed.  They have eaten up a good share of our supply of quality small square bales of hay at this point, and we will be needing to find more of those.  They spend the nights in a stall, so we are going through shavings like crazy as well.  They like their outside time in the paddock during the day (weather permitting, but it's been pretty nice and they've been getting sunshine, and we did build a new shelter in the paddock as well).  The little girl, F24, is about the size Teddy (if you remember Teddy with his blind momma) was when he came in to us at between 2-3 months old.  

I'm happy to say that the marks and sores on their faces from their halters growing in previously are healing up.  

This will be a very long haul for these fillies - they aren't just a little thin, they are emaciated, weak and unhealthy with compromised immune systems.  Seeing them gain some strength is a very good sign.  We will not be able to load them up too quickly with the feeds as we also do not want to see them shoot into a growth spurt and wind up with OCD either (osteochondritis dissecans).  Like I said, this is a long haul, and we are very grateful for your support through this!  

Here are a couple of pics of the girls from just the other day.  I take video of them as well.  I will continue to post updates on them every few days.  

Also, if anyone wants to write letters to the District Attorney's office to voice their opinions on what the outcome of the case should be, here is a note from the District Attorney regarding that question:  

"Yes, you can do so. I will collect them and then present them to the court at sentencing since the court is the ultimate decision-maker on the outcome. Let people know the defendants will receive a copy of their letter."

Tania M. Bonnett
Adams County District Attorney 
P.O. Box 258 
400 Main Street 
Friendship, WI  53934  

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Aww, sweet girls ❤️ I have complete faith that they will pull through now that they're with you, but certainly will take time. Thank you for all you do!
So glad there are hopeful signs.
Now there is a sweet little treasure
Thank you for sharing details Karen. There is so much going on with these poor little ones and it is informative to hear how you are managing it. Grateful for your diligence and knowledge.
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