Two horses rescued from an apparent hoarding situation at a farm in Roseboom last week are in need of foster or permanent homes before Friday, June 18.
The horses, both full-grown stallions, were among 38 brought to the Otsego County Fairgrounds in Morris as a temporary refuge until placements could be found.
Between Facebook messages, comments, texts, calls and emails, more than 100 horse owners from across the state offered to take in the rescues, according to Stacie Haynes, executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA, which coordinated the rescue and relocation efforts.
More than a dozen shelter staff and volunteers worked “around the clock” for four days to free the horses, many of which were trapped by several feet of manure in barns or structures the size of a chicken coop, Haynes said.
“I cannot be more grateful to the people that helped make this happen,” she said. “I’m absolutely floored by how many people care.”
Haynes said the shelter tapped into its Farm Friends network, which it began assembling over the winter, to help rehome the horses. Nearly all of the adoptive and foster owners are directly associated with the shelter, while the remainder were approved based on recommendations from within the network.
Three local veterinarians assisted in providing triage and emergency care to the horses, Haynes said. The Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney and All Animals Matter in Oxford, run by mother-daughter duo Erin Insinga and Diane Troxell, donated feed buckets and gift certificates for the continued care of the horses.
“Our No. 1 concern was the safety of the horses,” Haynes said. “We’re so glad they’re out and they’re safe and on their way to getting better.”
In addition to the 38 horses removed from the property, the remains of several others were found at the site, Haynes said. Several sets of old bones were uncovered from the manure, as well as a recently deceased foal.
“There were some really disturbing scenes at that farm,” Haynes said. “That’s what made us say that this really is an emergency and these horses have to go.”
With the most pressing aspects of the case now mostly resolved, Haynes said she and her staff have had time to reflect and plan for improvements if a similar situation arises.
“My staff are not equine experts,” she said. “There’s people out there that know better than we do, and we would like to welcome them into our Farm Friends network. We’re a temporary solution, just like we are for cats and dogs.”
The SPCA was assisted by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office and has since helped direct other county resources, including Otsego County Mental Health and Office for the Aging, to the former owner, who willingly turned over ownership of the horses to the shelter.
The owner was not identified or criminally charged.
“People who are hoarders are suffering themselves,” Haynes said. “We’re not in the business of kicking people when they’re down. We want to provide this person with the resources to do better, feel better and be better.”
“It doesn’t feel good to take somebody’s horses,” Haynes continued. “It was really refreshing to work with people from the county who really do care. It makes our jobs a lot better.”