You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

Multiple owners could face charges in Salem Township horse cruelty case

By Cindy Heflin

Multiple owners are responsible for the neglect of 15 to 20 horses at a Salem Township boarding facility, an animal cruelty investigator said today.

One horse was dead when investigators arrived, but it’s not clear if the animal died from old age or neglect, said Matt Schaecher, Humane Society of Huron Valley cruelty investigator.

The other animals, which were suffering from malnutrition and lack of shelter, are all expected to recover, Schaecher said. A report seeking charges against the owners was expected to be forwarded to prosecutors for review today or Friday.

If convicted of cruelty to animals, the owners could face punishment ranging from fines to imprisonment for up to a year or more. The penalties for cruelty to animals vary depending on how many animals are involved.

The Double Diamond boarding facility on Seven Mile Road near Curry Road provides space for boarding but no services, Schaecher said. “Ultimately, it’s the owner’s responsibility,” he said.

The Humane Society received a few calls from people concerned about the horses, Schaecher said. The first came on Tuesday, and the Humane Society began its investigation that day.

The agency is working to identify and contact owners, who have now begun to provide care. “When we first went there it was a ghost town,” Schaecher said. “Now there is a flurry of activity.”

The Humane Society did not take any of the animals from the boarding facility, but Schaecher said some of them lack shelter and if it is not provided, the animals will be removed.

Schaecher didn’t know why the owners were neglecting the animals, but he said the number of people abandoning animals has grown in the poor economy. Horses are especially vulnerable because their care is, in Schaecher’s word’s “not cheap.”

"We’re seeing more abandonment and neglect of animals of all kinds,” he said.



Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

Horse Cruelty Under Investigation by Humane Society of Huron Valley Friday, December 9, 2011 By: Lisa Nichols Eighteen horses removed from a boarding facility in Salem Township. HSHV is investigating a large-scale animal cruelty case on a horse boarding facility in Salem Twp. There are over 60 horses on the property and nearly 20 have been neglected. Two horses have been found dead, apparently starved to death. Nine animals were removed from the property. Many of the horses are seriously underfed and in desperate need of veterinary care. We are looking at the potential of prosecuting 3 different owners. "This is a terrible sight to see. Starving to death in the cold is a horrible way for these noble creatures to die. This will be a costly case and challenging in terms of ongoing care of the animals. Michigan's economy has been very difficult on horses because they are so expensive to care for and even if you wanted to sell or give away your horse, nobody's taking them right now because of the costs involved," said Matt Schaecher, Director of Animal Cruelty Investigation at HSHV. Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV Executive Director, said, "This case is also an important reminder to our community that our obligation towards animals goes way beyond housing of stray dogsā€”in stark contrast to how County Commissioners understand that role. Animal cruelty is a state law that must be and should be enforced, no matter the species of animal. Horse cruelty is a sad and growing problem in Michigan, one of several cases in Washtenaw County over the last few years. Though clearly a legal obligation, HSHV's animal cruelty investigation and rescue department is paid for solely by donations. It saves taxpayer dollars and provides an invaluable service to our community." If you would like, you can make a donation to our Cruelty & Rescue department to help offset the cost of the investigation. The following video was taken by WXYZ last night:


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Please no one ever board your horses at Double Diamond again. They need to understand that responsibility goes beyond the bare minimum set by insufficient legislation.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Here is a link to The Human Society's article on these horses. I hope that will allow it to be posted. <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;id=7982&amp;news_iv_ctrl=1541#.TuIwZCd5aGs</a>


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

If the horses are not fed correctly, even their meat will taste gamy - then what was the point of their existence?

Arnold R.

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

Truly an unfortunate situation. This is a perfect storm of poor legislation colliding with a poor economy. The 2006 bill that effectively ended the slaughter of horses in the US had unintended consequences. For additional reading please connect to the following two links: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

This folks should be imprisonment for up to a year or more. I hope the horses can be saved.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

I don't get it. I boarded horses for over a decade. Abandonment is quite common but the law is also clear. MCL 750.2 defines responsibility: (2) An owner, possessor, or person having the charge or custody of an animal shall not do any of the following: (a) Fail to provide an animal with adequate care. The claim that the the boarding facility is not responsible is rubbish. They have custody of the animals and, regardless of their agreement with the owners, they are responsible. To let an animal starve because someone doesn't pay their bill or show up daily is not an excuse. You feed them and sue the absentee owners. Yes, the most likely fate of these animals is, unfortunately, slaughter.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

A terrible situation, where are the owners who boarded this poor animals? Didn't they notice the neglect? There is no excuse for such treatment.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

Sounds like the property owner did no due diligence when renting the stalls/space out to people, and got caught flat footed. He/she is ultimately responsible for this debacle, but let's hope the horse owners pay the price as well, as well they should. Ignorance is no excuse. Horses are big, expensive creatures at best, and if you are not passionate about their daily care then you have no business owning one.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

So, the horses are left there and the owners are told to feed them. But who is going to make sure they follow through? Certainly not the Humane Society because they don'y have the means to run out there all of the time. Certainly not the &quot;boarding&quot; facility because they haven't cared in the past. I'm hoping to see a follow-up.

Basic Bob

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

Sorry, the owners of the horses are ultimately responsible. If their horses are not being fed, they have the responsibility to feed them, move them, or give them to someone who can take care of them. The last few years have been tough on horses and horse owners, and for those animals who can't be rescued, the knacker is always an option.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

Too bad that Matt S. from the Humane Society won't be able to investigate horrible cases like this after Jan. 1 of the Washtenaw Board of Commissioners bid it out with their misguided &quot;RFP&quot;.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

What do the Washtenaw County Commissioners think should happen to these horses? Since they are not dogs, these horses are not included in the RFP the commission has put out. Let the Washtenaw County Commissioners know that we want all the animals in Washtenaw County to be cared for by HSHV. They should renew the contract for $500,000 for the services the humane society has been providing for years.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Just being livid is not enough (unless your name is &quot;Livid&quot;). Rescue groups usually don't have any place to stash seized horse property. The Animal Cruelty Department has no real option other than to send them to an auction (dog food the next week). And, court actions to remedy the situation can take weeks. Here is one possible option, but Livid will need to get involved, participate, and donate time, money and labor. That's what I do. Walk the talk ! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Find them on Facebook. Watch the videos.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

In fact, in this case, all 18 horses are at a rescue facility and not in danger of shipping to auction or slaughter.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

I am not a target here. He could have made his suggestion as a comment and avoided a personal attack on me. What are you doing to help Dennis? Or for that matter, is cibachrome doing anything? That was a personal attack that was unwarranted.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

I don't think cibachrome is being nasty. I think he's calling out self-righteous indignation. You're livid about this situation and complain--and that's fine. However, the Humane Society IS acting here. Of course, the boarding farm should have been more involved. Of course, the owners should have cared for their animals. I don't know as the Humane Society was excusing them--just merely stating a fact. When the economy is bad, the animals are the first to be dumped. Not just horses, but dogs and cats as well. What cibachrome is telling you is that if you are concerned there is a group that provides help to abused horses. If you think that the Humane Society has a place for all these horses, you are wrong. They don't and if no one takes a horse, it will be put down. I never heard of this group before and am glad it does exist and that cibachrome made me aware of it. If you want to channel your anger into something positive, you may want to look into donating to it or offer some other help. Being livid won't help a single horse, dog, cat or--most importantly--person. Being active will. Maybe you already are, and that's good. But, don't take his suggestion as an insult.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

There have been cases around here in the past where they did place horses with local farms. You don't need to be nasty to me about this situation. What exactly is the &quot;Animal Cruelty Department&quot; anyway? You lack all creditability. &quot;Dog food next week my eye!&quot;


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

What happens to these beautiful animals? Last time I checked, there aren't horses housed at the Human Society. Please don't tell me they are put down. For any other domestic pet, the Humane Society takes them in hopes of an adoption, for a fee. If no one claims ownership, someone who can take them and nurse them back to health (if possible) should be able to. If the owner isn't going to take responsibility, let someone else.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

How can a business that provides neither shelter nor food possibly be described as a &quot;boarding facility&quot;? What are the horse owners paying for? Long-term parking?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:49 a.m.

long term parking would be a good description.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:01 p.m.

I know they are strapped but if at all possible I believe these horses should have been removed from that property. Maybe legally Double Diamond has no responsibility but they looked the other way and did nothing for these horses. Didn't they bother to look at the condition of the horses? If they weren't going to feed and shelter them why didn't they call the humane society? This is a terrible situation which is continuing. The Humane Society's excuses for the owners does not hold water. If I sound angry it's because I am livid.

Cindy Heflin

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

justcurious: We do have an update: <a href=""></a>


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Horses have been removed thanks to the HSHV. I'm waiting for to update this story.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:14 p.m.

Your 'lividity&quot; is better directed not only to the owners of the facility and horses but to the county commissioners who are failing to honor needed committments to the HSHV...the only unequivocally &quot;good guys&quot; in this mess.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

Double Diamond has legal responsibility. MCL 750.2.