Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kaehl and Autumn Crick

From Theresa:
Who would have thought that this organization would bring us together with so many wonderful people. Autumn Crick called last week asking for assistance on feeding their 7 horses. She and her husband Kaehl have both recently lost their jobs and while their horses have not had to go hungry as yet, Autumn wanted to make sure they wouldn’t have to. So she called to ask about our emergency hay ration program and how it worked. I told her what we had to offer which was a really good price on some nice barley hay and while we really didn’t have the luxury of a large quantity to give them the hay, we would be happy to extend our good deal on to them; take and IOU and work our whatever payment arrangements worked for them. They were happy with that arrangement and through our discussion I learned that she sings in church and her son helps with a child after school program. I thought to my self…”We need to recruit these people!” Interestingly, I had a note on my desk that had been there for a couple months with Autumn's name, phone and email address, given to me by Kim Marthens indicating that this person wanted to be on our Network list. Due to my fat fingers, I had input her email address wrong and the emails I sent were bouncing back to me. I had called and left her a message some time ago but we hadn’t yet connected … so I just left the note there as a reminder to me to follow up on it again in the future. So it was interesting that when she called and told me her name…I kinda felt like I already new her as she was wanting to be part of our group for awhile. Man power associated with bucking bales is always a problem to be worked out. We had the hay bought, but it was still being housed at the ranch where we bought it, under roof, safe and sound. But the rancher was anxious to have it moved and neither Kim or I were very excited about the prospects of unloading it ourselves. The rancher loaded it for us with his farm hand, but unloading 7 tons was not an exciting thought. So I shared our predicament with Autumn and I’ll be darned if she didn’t come up with a solution for us. She volunteered her husband, Kaehl saying…”Why not? He’s not working and he’d be glad to help!” So that’s the way we worked it out. We traded them ½ ton for their efforts in unloading aprox 4 tons and we have an IOU form them on the other ½, Very nice people! I’d like to help them find work if we could. He is a truck driver with 25 yrs experience. He has his CDL and HAZMAT ratings. He’s pulled double bottoms to Canada and belly dumps and most recently he worked on the road crew building Hwy 93. He has also run lots of heavy equipment She is into retail sales and has various experiences including real estate. If anyone has work to offer them, they can contact them at 369-1762…and it is with their permission that I share this info with you. They want to be working!

Follow up 2/2/2009

Dear Theresa,I've been wanting to write sooner but Kaehl and I have been out job hunting alot. We wanted to let you know how very greatful we are to have the help and how we also were very glad we could help move the hay for ya'll. It made us feel good to be able to contribute. Kaehl and I read the blog and we thought it was cool. I'm so glad about the horse trial being a success for them (horses) and those of us who luv horses. Here are some pics of our horses eating the hay we got from ya'll. One is a little blurred.Sincerely, Autumn Crick

Friday, January 30, 2009

Heydon Animal Cruelty Trial Outcome

Once again the courtroom and the overflow room were filled with people who came to witness the proceedings today. Curtis and Craig Heydon were found guilty on all 22 counts of Animal Cruelty and abandonment. Judge Bailey sentenced them to 6 months jail time on each count, with all but 30 days on each count suspended, awarded custody of the four horses to the Bitterroot Humane Association, ordered the Heydons to reimburse the BRHA for all the costs incurred for caring for and obtaining treatment for the horses, and fined them $585.00 for each count. In his sentencing, the Judge stated that the Heydons had at no time taken any responsibility for the horses, they refused to pay for their care, and, in fact, blamed the horses for being the problem. He stated that their treatment of the animals had resulted in torture of the horses. And if that was the end of the story - it would be wonderful. But it's not. As soon as sentencing was complete the defense attorney dropped an appeal on the judges desk. Now the Heydons can return home, none of the penalties are imposed, the horses' legal status is still in limbo, and everything begins again in District Court. The good news is that justice was served this time ... and hopefully it will be the next as well. The community owes huge thanks to Prosecutor John Bell and many others who worked so hard to see justice prevail in this case, including the jurors who spent so much time listening to testimony and deliberating.

To view the Ravalli Republic's online article posted this afternoon regarding the verdict click here.

Here are a few of the comments we've received regarding the outcome of the trial.
"Congrats to all involved, and thanks to the County Attorneys Office for going the distance.
Change of Venue is not done just on request ... there will be a litmus test the defense will have to meet to prove they could not get a fair trial in Ravalli County. And just saying they are going to appeal and going through with it are two different things once they look at court costs, and all other factors.
Relish the victory, breath deeply and remain calm. Remember Camp Collie went ten months for a final victory... but it will be worth it in the end.
Great job to the individuals and community team that has spoken up for these horses!!!!!

Dave Pauli, Northern Rockies Regional Director AND National Project Director
The Humane Society of the United States
Northern Rockies Regional Animal Protection Team
490 N 31st Street; Suite 215,
Billings, MT 59101406-255-7161 (f) 7162"


"Theresa,The most heartfelt thanks to you and everyone else at Willing Servants for helping make yesterday's conviction become a reality. It was the sweetest news I've heard in so very long. From my household and critters to yours, thank you, thank you!April Christofferson"

"CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Theresa, you and your wonderful friends and helpmates have made this a better world. I am so proud to know you and to be a small part of this effort. All my friends and loved ones join me in saying THANK YOU!
with love and encouragement. Jane Aldrich"

"Congratulations to you, your volunteers and especially to the horses. I know it took a lot of effort for folks to come to the courthouse and spend their day there. I'm sorry I was not able to join you. I was with you in spirit. Debora Lay EAP Equine SpecialistHaven's HorsesHamilton, MT"

"Dear Theresa,
Thanks for all the support you and your organization gave to the humans and animals involved. I appreciated your upbeat nature and your obvious foundation for all of us to lean and build upon! I appreciated your call. May our paths cross again without the stress of abuse! Jesse Applebury"

"Yeeeeaaaaa hoooooo!!!!! It couldn't be better!!!!! Good For You Theresa! You worked hard for that one, and lots of people are very happy for what has been done! And what is going to be done in the future! God Bless, Jeanne Burruss"

I love your emails :-). You are sooooo good! I ran later than expected at my appointment so I was unable to make it to the Edge in time to join loss. I am sooooo happy with this outcome, as I know we all are...this is sooooo amazing! And kudo's to all of you who were able to
make it to court day after day....I'm sorry I couldn't be is
school .... see you soon and God Bless! Nancy"

"Hi Theresa! I can't tell you what an impact this case has had on me. When I got that great, great, call from Joyce (when I was in Missoula), I cried for happiness! What WONDERFUL news, thanks to you Theresa. I hope you got "my" hug from Joyce! And I loved seeing you guys on t.v.. What a fantastic group we have - we're all close friends to each other. I respect "everyone" in our club. It's the best organization I've ever been involved in. That was something, you being there until midnight last night......boy, I wish I was there today. I'm just amazed how you've created a fantastic upgrade in our laws ... I'll get some good sleep tonight, finally!!! Take Care - Dale"

Final Day Of Heydon Trial

Yesterday all the testimony was concluded in the Heydon Animal Cruelty trial and the jury began deliberation. The courtroom was still full to overflowing on the third and last day of the trial. The jury was in deliberation late into the night, and will reconvene today at 10:00 am. Last night some of the people who have been attending or following the proceedings gathered to await the verdict and share dinner. During the friendly discussions of the evening, one man said something to effect of: even if these men are not convicted, not held accountable for their indifference to suffering, much good has still come out of the series of events. And that is true - many community members are working very hard for new and effective animal protection legislation, Willing Servants was formed to provide support and services to assist horses and owners, and others in the community consistently make themselves and their resources available for rescue or assistance efforts on their own. In the grand scheme of things, the Heydons are no longer really significant. Working to ensure that people like them cannot just walk away from abuse and neglect, that penalties are in line with offenses, that prosecution is sure and swift and fair, that people in the community have support for their horses when they need it - that is what is really important here now. Let's remain steadfast in our commitment to these excellent efforts.

To see the Ravalli Republic newspaper account of yesterday's testimony, click here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Day of Heydon Trial

Many of us were able to attend the trial. Here's Theresa's great email report on the first day of the trial.

Although I started the day a little bit nervous and apprehensive…I ended the day in court feeling pretty confident and positive about the final outcome. I’ll share a few quick highlights. And these won’t be exact quotes as I’m just going real quick from memory.

First off…there were over 40 people there to show their support of Dawn, Q, Able, Diamond, Casino and Magic. WAhhhooooooo! Way to go horse lovers! The court room only held 14…so we went in by order in which we showed up…those getting there the earliest got in first. And then they did have an overflow room for us that people could watch it on TV…and we overflowed that too. Our Treasurer, Kim Dornan and Secretary, Sharon Wyche were the very first ones there, but they gave up their seats for others…and they attended to other WS business during the day….delivering T shirts and photo journaling the adoption of DANDY and TRAVELER! Yeaaaaa…it was a good day all around.

The trail did not get started until 11am and the first hour was spent giving the jurors instructions and then the attorneys gave their opening statements. As far as I was concerned, they we’re guilty after hearing just the opening remarks…but I suppose they would squeal that wouldn’t be fair so we’ll be there for two more days.. Attorney Bell did a good job of giving a thumbnail sketch of the whole story in his opening remarks. I watched the juror’s faces and I must say they were all pretty stoic with only an occasional slip of an expression.

And then their attorney gave his opening statements….and it sounds like their whole case is resting on the EXPERT testimony of Dr Dick Richardson. Who, according to their attorney, has said that Able was not emaciated when he was brought in, but fit and thin…and a thin horse is far healthier than a fat horse. And Able should be likened to a Model…we like our women skinny and that’s the shape Able was in….Model thin. I can’t be positive…but I’m pretty sure I saw disgust on Judge Bailey’s face.

It’s worth mentioning that every objection their attorney made was overruled. Every one…the whole day.

Dawn was the first witness and did a fantastic job of keeping it together and painting a picture that the jurors could vividly see in their minds eye. And when Attorney Bell asked Dawn “Would you compare Able’s condition to a Model?” Did he look like a Model horse to you when you first saw him…She said “No…he looked like a dead horse.” Dawn was probably on the witness stand longer than anyone else as she had to give the overview of the whole story.

We learned that the Heydons called Able…Bay Baby. Personally I like “Able” better.

Then Q was up after lunch. She did very well also! She said she was nervous, but you would never know it from watching and listening to her. He story was in perfect harmony with Dawns…so the jurors got to hear the same story twice.

Then Mike S. took his turn on the stand. Mike has a pretty impressive resume with horses and ranching and he combined just the right amount of emotion with some powerful statements….Like “I’ve never seen a horse in that poor a condition.” “I sent Dawn on ahead to get more help, because I thought I was going to have to put him down and I didn’t want her to have to see it.” He made very sure that the jury knew that they had given Able butte 4 times…more than any other horse in his history…to get him off the mountain and BEFORE he went to Blue Mountain vet clinic. So what Dr DICK saw the first time was a horse on a lot of butte with his pain masked and managed. He was great and gave powerful testimony!

Then we heard from a Brand Inspector who informed us that the Heydons did not have the proper travel papers. They did have coggins tests on the horses…but not health certificates and they were cited for that. Not looking good for them.

Then we heard Deputy Pease (?sp) I honestly can’t remember any particular point he made…but he helped Dawn and Q relax in the Witness room…so he’s worth his weight in gold!

Then we had Deputy McGoldrick…(again ? on sp) God Bless Him…he was the Deputy who confronted the Heydons at the storage units where they had the make shift paddocks set up…and he taped his and Deputy Moles whole 25 minute conversation with the Heydons….and we got to listen to the whole thing in court today and it was admissible as evidence. We got to hear Old Man Heydon say on the recording …”There is nothing wrong with those horses!” “I’ll get a horseman with some authority to tell you there isn’t anything wrong with those horses.” “That horse is not going to stay at a vet’s office, needlessly for $50. a day! No sir …I won’t stand for it!” “Let me tell you something about that horse…He’s stubborn and lazy! He went down on us 5 times during this trip!” And Deputy McGoldrick did the right thing in calling Deputy Moles to the scene as Deputy Moles owns horses and he, upon his arrival to the scene… SET THEM STRAIGHT! And it was all on tape! We probably all need to write a thank you letter to him…because you all would have been proud of him! He said “I have horses that I pack into the back country for 6moths at a time and I’ve never had a horse look like this!” And he said “I’m impounding the horses because it is OBVIOUS that you do not have the necessary knowledge to provide adequate care for the horses.” There was lots more…but you get the gist.

He’ll be first on the witness stand tomorrow. I can’t wait to shake his hand and say “thank you.”

Keep sending up prayers….and I’ll keep you posted on the progress…but it’s looking good so far!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Heydon Horse Abuse Trial

Today's news was going to be about picking up hay for emergency hay supplies to tide people over in a tough spot - but tomorrow morning is the Heydon Animal Abuse Trial, and that can't go unmentioned. The details of the case have been covered quite a bit, so there's no point in going over them here. Suffice it to say that the defense of the parties involved is offensive - period.

There are a lot important issues related to this trial - the animal protection legislation that is making its way through the state legislature right now, the unwanted horse issues, how to deal with the abuse and neglect issues in our own communities. However, now I'm just going to quote from an email Theresa sent today talking about the two women who found the first horse subject of this trial, named Able because he is.

"...What they saw…what they smelled…and how it made them feel to see such a beautiful animal…Left for DEAD! Lying there…with his saddle still on tight. Can we even try to imagine how it must have felt to be on a great trail ride with a good friend on a beautiful summer day…excitedly anticipating what the day might bring….what creeks they would cross and how had they changed from the last time they traveled this path…what wildflowers they might see…what wildlife they might encounter…and then to find Able lying on the trail, near dead…and the heart wrenching, gut twisting pain and frustration that they endured over the next 3 days….JUST TO GET HIM OUT OF THERE. And that was only the beginning of it! And then the frustration of feeling accountable and responsible to a horse they had saved, but yet not having any control over anything that happened to him after they released him into protective custody. They really need our prayers and our support. They need to be able to look out into the audience and see familiar, supportive faces. I know we won’t let them down."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Media News Today!

This morning Theresa had a great interview on KLYQ talk radio in spite of having a pretty bad cold! She was afraid she would sound like a frog, but sounded downright normal as she used the opportunity to spread the word about the mission of Willing Servants to serve as a safety net for horses and horse owners (maybe they have some kind of a croaky voice filter at the radio station :-) ). She gave details about the upcoming Final Act of Kindness euthanasia service that is scheduled for January 29th, and the exciting keynote lecture by very well-known Douglas Corey DVM coming up on February 10th. Check the website for details about these events.

Also, today Willing Servants' new biweekly column, In The Round Pen, shows up in the Ravalli Republic newspaper. The first article is Knowing When To Report A Case Of Horse Abuse and has some good, concrete information about easy to use body condition criteria and step-by-step guide for how you can determine equine neglect/abuse and what to do about it. If you see what you believe to be neglect or abuse - remember that you may be all that stands between that horse(s) and its suffering. I will get the article posted on the website tonight and add a link to it from this post. Here's the closing paragraph of the article.

"The lord has given us dominion over the animals, but to whom much has been given, much is expected. With horse ownership comes responsibility, 24/7, 365 days a year, especially when it's 20 below."

To link to the full article click here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In The Beginning ...

Willing Servants was born out of one woman's desire to create a positive response to a horrible case of horse abuse that rippled through the horse community from coast to coast. Theresa Manzella, horse trainer, breeder and competitor, enlisted community help to put together an auction to raise money in order to provide some kind of safety net for horses. The organization began in October 2008 and has already utilized its network to place 13 horses. Willing Servants offers emergency hay to provide feed for horses whose owners are in temporary difficulty, accepts horses that owners can no longer provide for in order to find them permanent homes, offers a Final Act of Kindness euthanasia service for debilitated horses when appropriate and seeks to find many ways to provide information, support and education to horse owners who can benefit by it. Many members of the community have joined in this effort to stand between tough economic times or lack of knowledge and severe consequences for horses by providing these types of support. This coalition embodies the Willing Servants belief that together we are ABLE. We welcome your particpation in this journey and will share it with you here with accounts of struggles and successes through stories and pictures.