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The Situation in Rapid City with Thin and Dead Horses

Hi, Gentle Spirits and people of South Dakota.

We are aware and involved in the situation in the Rapid City area with the thin and dead horses. As always, this post is intended to provide factual information and status updates along with "what can we do" answers

.First, I personally have spoken with the State Vet. The Pennington County Sheriff and the Animal Industry Board are involved. The remaining horses are being monitored, have food, water and shelter, which is the minimum required by law. The State is also assisting and advising on proper carcass disposal and environment.

We do need to remind everyone to take a breath and realize there are laws for this and things that must be done certain ways even if we don't like it. At this point, there are more questions than answers, and while it may ultimately be a situation of just not providing food, medical reasons for the deaths and conditions have to be ruled out first. Unfortunately these things do take time and for now, we just want it known that the authorities are involved and in communication with us. We are in communication with Happy Tails Haven Horse Rescue and Sanctuary in the area and have reached out to several of the people who are on the ground in Rapid City, and all are welcome to join the conversation.

We ask, as always, for patience and compassion even for the owner of the horses, even if you don't believe they deserve it. In our 12+ years of rescue work, with multiple large scale rescues like this, it is rarely intentional - there is nearly always a lot more going on with the humans involved and while we don't need to condone their actions we do need to focus on the horses, their care, and compassion towards the owner and whatever struggles they are dealing with. It's not easy at all to walk into a situation like this and stay focused but if you want to help, you simply have to.

Negative, attacking speculatory comments will be deleted. If you have factual historical information about the owner please feel free to email us at and we will ensure it is provided to the AIB and States Attorney as they move forward.

We have spoken of the concerns with the need for a refeed protocol and extra protection for the skinniest horses and are awaiting to hear what assistance we can provide. So that's where you step in. At the moment, the horses' basic needs are being cared for and in their condition the stress of moving is not considered in their best interests during the investigation. In order to provide a higher level than "basic" care we have asked if the owner and/or sheriff will allow the public to provide blankets, help setup stalls in an enclosed area and even assist with feeding so the horses can be placed on a proper refeed schedule.

And yes, if it comes down to it, if they need to be moved at some point we will need either one home willing to foster them all or help getting them to one of the rescues involved. For legal purposes - and for the mental well being and least amount of additional stress for the horses - it is best for them to remain in one place, together.

That means, Rapid City/Box Elder friends, if we get permission to do this you will need to step up. We are 5 hours away and it's blizzarding between us. If we get permission to provide advanced care, we'll need hands on the ground to make it happen. If you want to do something to get ahead, see if you have extra blankets; seek out potential donations of alfalfa; really take a moment to think if you could donate time to help with refeed while remaining kind and polite to the authorities and owner involved. Be ready to move at a moment if we give the word.

We will keep you updated and let you know more as we can, but did feel it important to let everyone know the facts about where things stand and what's being done. Things are moving, even though we can all agree it's later than it should, but as always we can only deal with the situation as it is and do our best to make sure that we can do better in the future by forming partnerships and working together and letting everyone know what resources are out there.