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Stevens County Humane Society takes in more neglected horses

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

The Stevens County Humane Society no sooner found homes for all 14 neglected horses rescued from a rural Starbuck home earlier this month than the group found itself facing another challenge, this time originating in Douglas County.

Four horses were rescued from a residence in Douglas County last week and taken to the same safe haven in Stevens County where the Starbuck horses spent time recovering before leaving for their new homes. A colt was found dead at the Douglas County residence, said Kathleen Jost, a Stevens County Humane Society member and veterinarian.

The Douglas County horses were in better shape than the Starbuck horses when rescued but are still suffering from emaciation and dehydration. Compounding the problem, Jost said, the current rescues are thoroughbreds, which makes it more difficult to place them. The thoroughbreds have done very little work with people, have had little contact with more than one person and are "hotter-headed," Jost said.

"They aren't your calm quarter horse," Jost said. "They're bred to run -- that's what they do. They're not really horses you can send to a novice horse owner who doesn't have experience working with these breeds. We hope to find some options. I think (the owner) thought they'd be great race horses, but you've got to feed them."

Keith Streff, Senior Investigator for the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, led both investigations. Charges were filed against the Starbuck horse owner since there had been a pattern of neglect and warnings had been issued. He said the Douglas County horse owner cooperated by signing a custodial release and, since the owner had no track record of abusing or neglecting animals, Streff doesn't anticipate any criminal charges being filed.

The Starbuck situation was a "catastrophic case," Streff said. "This one was not so, but it was certainly trending that way."

The Starbuck case was handled well, with volunteers coming forward with the necessary equipment to remove the horses, resources to house and feed them, and to arrange for permanent homes. All 14 horses have been placed with new owners and all are recovering well, Jost said.

"These are not just fosters -- they've all found homes," Jost said. "It's a fairly miraculous situation."

The Stevens County Humane Society also is the only one in the area capable of handling large animal foster care so Streff tapped the group again for help in the latest neglect case, Jost said.

Streff was confident in doing so, praising Jost for her work on the cases.

"She's a fine vet and an even finer individual," Streff said. "She's one of the most conscientious large animal vets I've worked with."