NORTH LAWRENCE –– The president and vice president of an equine rehabilitation center in North Lawrence are in a quandary over four horses that were dropped off at their farm this month.
A Little Bit of Heaven, Inc., President Michael Woods and Vice President and Secretary Anne Foley said they were told the horses would be shot by their owner if they didn’t take them in. But now that the horses are in their possession, they wonder who their owners really are and, although they’ve had folks approach them about adopting some of the horses, they don’t want to make a move until they find out.
“We want to let people know, if there are owners out there, number one, these horses are getting the care that they should have been getting and, number two, we are not releasing these horses at this time until we get this sorted out,” Foley said. “We want to find out if there are other owners and where these horses came from,” Woods said.
While they were traveling near Utica, Foley said they received a phone call from a horse hauler at midnight on Aug. 20. He told them he had a loaded trailer of horses that he said were going to be shot by their owner if someone didn’t get them.
“He asked if we had room and could take some because he stated he had nowhere to go with them and they had to be delivered immediately. So we hurried home from out of town to receive the horses,” Foley said.
“We jumped in the truck and headed back home at 11:30 that night,” Woods said.
They arrived back home at 2:40 a.m. and the hauler pulled in with the horses at 4:20 a.m.
“Three of them were underweight,” Woods said.
“When they came in, we were told, ‘They came from a lady in Syracuse who was going to shoot them that night if they weren’t gone because she had no money to care for them,’” Foley said.
But the hauler’s story about the fate of the horses may not have been true, Foley said. They started receiving calls and messages from numerous people the next day, indicating that there was an investigation going on over the horses.
“We got a message that the guy had a horse rescue and riding stable off his range. The next morning we got messages that these horses were from his stable and they belonged to him,” Woods said.
“We did contact the authorities in the Syracuse area and was told there was not a current investigation in the hauler’s name. They knew off-hand that he was not currently under investigation,” Foley said.
However, they also received information via telephone calls and Facebook messages that the horses had names and may have belonged to others and were being boarded by the hauler.
Although they said they were told none of the horses had names or documentation, Woods and Foley did their own research and were able to find out information about one horse, a thoroughbred with a tattoo on his mouth.
“I looked up his tattoo. I found his name and age, but she (Foley) called the Thoroughbred Association to find out more information on him. He hasn’t been re-registered in quite a few years, so they don’t really know who owned him last,” Woods said.
Because of the uncertainty over the horses, Foley said she contacted New York State Police.
“I wanted to let somebody know that I didn’t know if these horses are stolen or not,” she said.
Woods said they were advised by state police not to let the horses go until the issue was resolved, even though there are already some people who want to adopt them.
“I have two people who want to adopt already,” he said.
But, they reiterated, the horses are staying until they can find out who actually owns them.
“My phones are blowing up. Our Facebook site is filled with people saying these horses should have never been taken. Either way, these horses were in desperate need of feed, which is why we took them in an emergency situation. The horses needed to be fed and needed care. We had no information other than the lady from Syracuse was going to shoot them,” Foley said.
Now they hope whoever owns them will step forward and claim the horses.
“If these horses belong to someone, we need to get them back to someone. If anyone has information on these horses, please contact us so that if they are owned we can get them back to where they belong,” she said.
A Little Bit of Heaven Inc. can be reached by phone at 276-5415, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
The organization, which is located at 35 Hallahan Road in North Lawrence, takes in unwanted, mistreated, abused or neglected horses to rehabilitate and place them in good homes and prevent good horses from going to slaughter.
“Our goal is to give the horse a purpose or chance in life to meet their fullest potential,” their Facebook page said.