Starved horses expose loophole in Indiana’s neglect law

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Three horses found starved and dehydrated in western Indiana in February have exposed a flaw in the state’s animal neglect law, some animal right supporters say.

Indiana Code defines animal neglect, in part, as “endangering an animal’s health by failing to provide or arrange to provide the animal with food or drink.” Although experts say the horses’ food, water and shelter were inadequate, the starved and dehydrated horses technically had access to those resources.

“He appears to have found a loophole in the law,” Jamie Showers, who manages Indiana Horse Rescue in Frankfort, 25 miles southeast of Lafayette, told the Journal & Courier.

Warren County Prosecutor John Larson said he does not anticipate any charges to be filed against the man. He declined to comment about whether there is a loophole in the law.

Police went to the property in Williamsport, 25 miles southwest of Lafayette, in mid-February and found five horses, four in poor health. The only violation was the lack of shelter for the horses, according to a report filed by the responding deputy. The owner told the deputy that the shelter had fallen down and that he would replace it the next day.

On Feb. 27, Warren County animal control officer John Kuiper, a sheriff’s deputy and a pair of Indiana State Board of Animal Health veterinarians visited the property. They found one horse to be “extremely emaciated” and another emaciated with slight tissue covering bones.

Kuiper said the man agreed to surrender three of the horses.

Although there was hay and feed available, it wasn’t enough, and the cage used to contain the hay was a danger; the horses had to put their necks and legs through the bars at times to reach the hay.

“They just weren’t being fed adequately, weren’t being cared for adequately,” Kuiper said. “But, as far as the state of Indiana is concerned, if the horse has access to food, water and shelter, there you go.”

The horses are being nursed back to health.

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Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

 

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