EDIT: These horses have been helped! According to the comments below, the NY State Police have been informed about their situation. It’s not entirely clear whether the horse(s) have been moved, or whether they are still at the site, but various sources strongly indicate that action is being taken. Also, it seems that Brenda’s last name is Wattie, not Waite. Thanks everyone!
UPDATES: the first news article, from the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
The local paper, the Daily Courier-Observer, pitches in with its own update on 8/27/13.
This morning my Facebook feed turned up the above photo, with attached caption. It exhorted me to forward the photo on, until “it reaches someone who can help”. It occurs to me that simply sharing a photo on Facebook is not helpful to this horse in any way. How can I help this horse?
First, some minimal research. Like photos of lost children, photos of abused animals tend to persist indefinitely. Long after the crisis is over, people will continue to forward the photos, trying to help without first checking to see if the animal is even still in danger. Also, not every forwarded photo of an emaciated animal has the full story — there is no way to verify in this case that the caption matches the photo. Maybe this animal is already under veterinary care, or this is a “before” photo “borrowed” from an unrelated animal rescue site. Before taking action, I should check to see if someone else has seen this first.
A quick Google Search By Image for the above picture reveals no immediate matches, so next I search for the names and location in Google. This reveals only the Facebook posting, which appears to be rather recent because there are not a lot of links. I also try phrases like “animal control burgess waite Moira NY” and get nothing, so…okay, our initial search reveals that there’s nothing on Snopes or any large sites yet to tell me if this is real or not. (Often, during research I’ll find local newspaper stories or police blotter postings confirming the story or filling in details.)
One link in particular (as well as the original “share” I saw on Facebook) describes the Facebook post as originating when “[poster] shared Rob Carlsen‘s photo.” The original post may in fact be here (I looked for Rob Carlsen on Facebook)…it contains the above information and nothing else. (It also has about 14,000 shares as of this moment…!) It also does have at least one comment on it from someone promising to look into this, so there’s hope!
In this case I’ll assume, because I love horses, and I’d like to help this one, that this photo has some basis in reality. Just sharing it on Facebook will only result in the propagation of the photo. How do I help this horse, from where I am?
First, locate the proper authorities: Google will also tell me where the local humane societies, right near Best Road in Moira, NY, are. Clicking on the individual links gives me web sites and phone numbers:
- Potsdam Animal Shelter (315) 265-3199 potsdamhumanesociety.org
- North Country Animal Shelter (518) 483-8079
- Tri-Lakes Humane Society (518) 891-0017 tlhsny.webs.com
- Massena Humane Society (315) 764-1330
- New York Horse Rescue (631) 874-9420 www.nyhr.org
- Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue (845) 416-8583 www.luckyorphanshorserescue.org
(I have not researched any of these sites, past looking at their web pages. I can only assume they are legitimate organizations — either way, calling them will not hurt!) The next step is to call or email these institutions and politely ask if they have investigated this photo. Since it’s roaming around on Facebook, they are probably receiving 200+ calls an hour about the picture, so remember to be polite, be brief, and do not waste their time. In the unlikely event that they don’t know about the photo yet, you’ve informed them of its existence. If they do know, you’ll be (gently!) nudging them to fully investigate. If I had friends in New York I would probably mention this to them as well — it is likely they know of other places one could call to try to get confirmation that this horse is, in fact, in trouble, and, if so, to get help to it. If you have something to offer (time, money, information) you could also consider contacting the lady who answered the original post and offered to drive by.
I suspect that, very shortly, there will be news stories about this horse telling us what really happened to it — I leave the investigative reporting to the people on the ground in New York. However, when I find out the rest of the story I’ll be sure to add it to this post, to try to close up the story of this horse so when other people find the photo and research it, they’ll be able to see whether their help is still needed or not.
Much better than just hitting “share”, don’t you think? And not much more effort! Good luck, anonymous horse!