Lantry, South Dakota – An employee, Colleen Burns, was fired from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) when she went public Thursday with allegations of institutional abuse and neglect of the horses in the society’s care.
Burns alleges, in an online document she published with photos, that over 30 horses have died of starvation on the bare dirt pastures the horses are confined on. “The main wild horse population, consisting of the White Sands, Catnip and Virginia Range herds, had gone several periods without food; periods consisting of anywhere from one to three days. Both myself and the ISPMB’s ranch hand Fred expressed concerns over the lack of food and asked when hay would be delivered. During one of my inquiries, I was told, by the organization’s president, that there are so many feed suppliers holding checks with a promise to pay and some suppliers are currently proceeding with judgments, that getting local feed deliveries is almost impossible. Almost every major feed supplier in the state refuses to deliver hay due to unfulfilled promises to pay for deliveries,” Burns writes in her document. Her allegations are confirmed, in part, by ISPMB’s president, Karen Sussman, being charged with felony grand theft for a bad check she wrote in excess of $9,000 for hay. If convicted she could face up to 10 years in prison.
Over 650 horses reside at the society, with no plan in place to prevent breeding, the numbers are swelling every year. With insufficient range land for the number of horses, it has been eaten down to dirt. While some hay is being fed to the horses, the stronger horses push the weak horses away from the limited feed, causing them to die from starvation.
Dewey County Sheriff Les Mayer visited the ranch with the state veterinarian. He has ordered Sussman to feed the horses, all of the horses, every day or risk arrest or citation. The Sheriff office has visited the ranch every day to confirm they are complying with the orders.
Sussman spoke briefly with reporters, describing Burns as a disgruntled employee, but stated she was too busy and promised to call back. She did not call before the deadline for publication, and returns calls and messages went unanswered, according to the Rapid City Journal.
Author: Dale Williams <-- Become my friend on Facebook! - Phone: 724-964-6773
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