AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Law Enforcement and animal control officers from across the state of South Carolina gathered at Aiken Equine Rescue for a training session on equine abuse. The event was organized by the Humane Society.
“We do this to educate law enforcement and animal control so that when they respond to a call or come to a scene they can recognize horse abuse. A lot of law enforcement officers have not had experience with horses and, therefore, may not understand a body score of a horse or understand when abuse is occurring. So, this gives them hands on experience so that they can readily identify abuse in their jobs,” said Janell Gregory, the state director for the Humane Society of the United States for South Carolina.
When it comes the subject of equine abuse, Gregory hopes to have a very educated law enforcement community so that they can properly police animal cruelty throughout South Carolina.
“In Aiken and in Camden we have two very prominent equine communities here in South Carolina, but we have equines throughout our state, livestock as well, so animal abuse is a big deal here and we want our law enforcement to be able to recognize it and properly respond to it. So, that’s why we feel this education is really important,” said Gregory.
We asked about some the things that an officer would look for in an equine abuse case.
“Feet are very important for horses. Teeth are very important for horses. Body type and scale are very important for a horse. So, you want to look for ribby, withers being exposed; hip bones being exposed; just a general skeletal look is not okay for a horse and it could be caused by numerous things. Some people might say you’re responding to my horse because he’s very old and he’s just supposed to look like this, but that’s not actually true. So, they’re going to learn a lot today about nutrition of horses and just because a horse is elderly does not mean he needs to be skin and bones. So, they are going to learn a ton on equine health and how it’s properly maintained,” said Gregory.
Equine abuse is a serious matter and making sure law enforcement knows what to do when cases arise will help make sure animals are safe; but what should you do if you’re a citizen and notice equine abuse?
“In that situation you should call your local law enforcement. We have animal control throughout the state, but not all animal control is situated under a law enforcement body; but local law enforcement would know how to get in touch with animal control if that’s the more appropriate responder. So, definitely call and report any kind of animal cruelty: dog, cat, horse, livestock, goats, whatever…anything you feel when an animal is not being properly treated, definitely call and report it to your local law enforcement. If you want to do it anonymously, you can report it through Crime Stoppers,” said Gregory.