After Sunday's post, Update on Equine STAR - Michigan Horse Rescue Accused of Horse Neglect, I received a few emails from Joan Tucker supporters stating that some of the information in the articles that I linked to was incorrect. So I spoke with Karen Workman, one of the reporters that has been covering the Tucker case. It turns out, we were wrong.
I'll let Karen explain...
Nine horses now in good hands
A guest blog post by Karen Workman, reporter and author of The Dog Blog
There’s been a lot of opinions expressed to The Oakland Press about former White Lake Township resident Joan Tucker.
Tucker, previously the director of Equine Star — a horse rescue that paired horses in need with people who needed them — foreclosed on her White Lake Township farm earlier this year.
She took about 25 horses with her to Texas.
I remember when The Oakland Press began reporting about Tucker and Equine Star. We wrote glowing articles about the program that saved horses and helped people, and let readers know how they could donate to her.
After a while, though, those articles began eliciting a different type of response from the public — we received a barrage of angry phone calls from readers who felt we were being irresponsible in urging others to donate to Tucker.
We’d later find out that although Equine Star was a 501-C3, it was not licensed in Michigan as a charity and therefore, Tucker was not allowed to solicit or receive donations.
After being in Texas for just a short while, I received a phone call from the couple who’d taken in Tucker and her horses. They were clearly distraught, at odds with her about how to care for the horses and told me they had asked her to leave.
Enter the East Texas Horse Rescue and Sanctuary, who stepped up to find Tucker a new home for both herself and her horses.
Months passed and I’d heard nothing from the folks down in Texas. But then, in August, I received a phone call I wasn’t expecting — one telling me that Tucker’s horses were emaciated, authorities weren’t handling the situation and some type of help was needed.
The authorities dispute allegations that they didn’t handle the case properly. From my point of view, everyone is entitled their opinion. The rescue organization’s opinion was that the authorities weren’t acting quickly enough, but the authorities said they were handling it by the book.
Argue opinions all you want, but the bottom line isn’t about who did what or who can be blamed for this, that or next thing — the bottom line is that horses were sick and they needed help.
The Oakland Press was told last week that nine horses had received such help after being seized by authorities. I’m not sure what happened, but it appears that information was partially incorrect.
Nine horses have indeed received help, but they were not seized.
“I did speak to Joan and asked her, ‘If I can find private owners, can I help?’ and she said, ‘Yes,’” said Lori Bowlin, a Texan who is affiliated with the East Texas Horse Rescue and Sanctuary. “At that point, I began looking for private people to take the horses.”
Bowlin said she personally took two horses, Cody and Rustina. A friend of hers took one more horse and another good friend took six horses.
“It never became a seizure-warrant-confiscated-type mission,” Bowlin said.
Texas officials confirmed the same thing and The Oakland Press published a correction in Tuesday’s edition (Sept.14).
Bowlin said Cody is getting multiple treatments daily for his eye issue and Rustina is slowly getting back to a healthy weight. All nine of the horses are now on farms with land to spare and lots of care, Bowlin said.
Understandably, it will take some time to get the horses back to full health, Bowlin said.
Bowlin also reported that the horses which remain with Tucker are healthy and being fed properly.
The last story I wrote about the situation in August, people who had previously owned some of the horses that became emaciated sobbed on the phone with me. As if seeing the photos wasn’t gut wrenching enough, listening to their cries was absolutely heartbreaking.
And so, I am beyond happy to know the horses are getting the care they need.
“They’re living it up, things are good,” Bowlin said of the horses.
Thank you, Lori.