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Neighbors discover to their dismay they can’t adopt pony they found in Pierce County

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LAKEBAY, Wash. -- Efforts to help a lost pony may have backfired. Neighbors thought they were doing the right thing when they alerted Pierce County about a pony they call "Runaway Ray."

Neighbors found him in bad shape. He had an infected eye, a small wound on its back and lice. They couldn't find the owner so they called animal control for help.

Ray was sent to the Tacoma Equine Hospital to be treated. When neighbors asked about the possibility of adopting him, they learned that he would be sent to auction because state law considers horses and ponies livestock, not a pet.

“We don't have any authority in this situation,” said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. “Everything is state law.”

Once a brand inspector examines Ray, he will be sent to a public auction in Enumclaw on May 9.

“He would be shipped to Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered for consumption outside of the country is the worst-case scenario,” said  Angel Hiott, one of the Key Peninsula advocates now trying to raise money to win him back.

State Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, is looking at introducing legislation that could keep a pony like Ray from going to auction if someone is willing to adopt them.

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24 comments

  • janecheuvront

    This is saddening when neighbors can after this pony a good life.
    They rather send to auction and this puts it’s life in danger to be slaughtered. This is pathetic. Are these people for real.
    Horse’s, mules, burros, donkeys and ponies are animals and they are pets.
    They to look up the definition of animals.

  • Mia

    This story got so many things wrong. While I feel for this lady, feelings aren’t facts. That pony does not “belong to all of them.” He likely has an owner. The law requiring a waiting period for auction/adoption is to give the pony’s rightful owner time to see the notifications and come forward to claim him. Can you imagine what would happen if they struck down those laws requiring the advertisement and sale of stray livestock? People could just go and steal horses, claim they found them running, and boom, they get a free horse, and the real owner is out of luck.

    Additionally, There is a near ZERO chance of the pony being slaughtered- number one, it’s been YEARS since any animal offered for auction in Western WA went for slaughter. Most horses over here find fantastic forever homes after having been won at auction. Do horses get sold for slaughter other places, like Eastern WA and Idaho? Sure, but if you’re upset about that, be upset at backyard breeders who bring more and more horses in to this world than there are people who want them- but that’s a separate story. Further, a pony that small would not even be worth the cost to transport it for a meat buyer. It just wouldn’t happen. This woman may have always wanted a horse, but it’s pretty evident that she doesn’t really know anything about horses. The pony will be advertised when the waiting period is over, and these people can go bid on him like anybody else. The money from his sale will go toward recouping SOME of the cost of his vet care and board to the county, but not nearly all.

    Animal Control is painted as the “bad guys” here, but do you really think anybody who’s made it their life’s work to help neglected, tortured, and abused animals would have anything to do with just funneling little ponies to slaughter? Would they bother paying the vet bills to return the pony to health if he was just going to be killed? Is a little logic too much to ask for, here? Not everything has to be made sensationalist, you know.

    • Carrie Arrington

      Mia, you are mistaken. Kill buyers go to EVERY auction at Enumclaw, don’t kid yourself. The horses are then shipped to Mexico or Canada for slaughter. I personally KNOW a kill buyer in western Washington, so don’t argue with me. Where you get the idea that they mostly find wonderful homes is a mystery. You clearly have VERY limited knowledge regarding the subject. The last American horse slaughter plant closed in 2007, so now they ship. Stop spreading ignorance, and put the effort into gaining knowledge.

      • Mia

        You’d be surprised at just how much direct knowledge on this particular subject I have, Carrie- more than a little Google University about when slaughter plants closed, that much is for sure. Ignorance is assuming things about people you know nothing about, based on three paragraphs. The Enumclaw auction is frequented by many area rescues, do-gooders, and local looking for deals. Most sound and sane horses that have a prayer at a good life get a crack at one. This pony is no different. Ask your kill buyer friend (and wow, what a thing to advertise) if it’s worth their money to bid against anyone for an eight-hand pony. Again, this guy wouldn’t be worth the space on the trailer. The only possible way for a slaughter buyer to profit is to spend next to nothing on a horse whose meat:size ratio is more in his favor than a little Shetland/Mini horse cross. The odds of this pony being slaughtered for consumption are next to nothing. Further, what chaps my hide most about this, is that there are horses everywhere in dire need of services and assistance, and who are in far greater danger of meeting an early end from things like neglect and starvation, but somehow, some people who found a lost animal and now feel irrationally entitled to him are what’s getting the press by playing up some falsehood about his imminent demise. This pony is not in any danger. If you’re worried about horses who are going to die, there are plenty of places to direct your righteous indignation.

        • Carrie Arrington

          Google University, my ass! I have spent over 25 years rescuing and rehabilitating slaughter bound horses, so take your condescending bullshit elsewhere. I fully understand the economics of the slaughter industry, and know full well that a pony like this will probably be bought for around 50-75 bucks by a kill buyer. Then stuffed into an over crowded trailer with his full size counterparts, and shipped to pure hell. I am sick to death of people like you who perpetuate the myth that horses at auction stand much more than a SLIGHT chance at life. I am at least 4th generation horseman, have spent my life on the back of a horse, so my “righteous indignation” is well earned.

      • Mia

        Read between the lines, Megan. It’s all over this story “they thought they were doing the right thing by calling the county” “plans to help him backfired.” The whole thing is biased and slanted. Horses are definitely bought to be slaughtered, as I stated previously. It happens rarely here in Western WA, because there is lower horse density here than in other places, and more people with money who buy cast off horses and rehabilitate/find them homes. Horses will continue to be slaughtered as long as people are irresponsibly breeding them, as there just aren’t enough horse homes to accommodate the number of animals produced every year. The issue is not whether or not horses are killed for meat, it’s whether this particular pony is in danger of that- and he’s NOT. The only evidence you have to think so is the word of some weepy woman who is admittedly not a horse owner, and thinks she’s entitled to keep the stray her neighbor found, because she lives on Key Peninsula. How is that rational?

        • Carrie Arrington

          I do have to agree with you in regards to over breeding. Backyard breeders everywhere, and every one of them believes they are legitimate, responsible breeders.

    • Tracey Dunn Williamson

      You are aware that Canada is one of the places horse slaughter continues and they slaughter everything, donkeys, minis , ponies and horses . Also from what I have learned the auctioneer in that county is a kill buyer who bids on animals then holds them for a big ransom and if not paid sends them on to slaughter. This pony is in trouble because this piece of garbage knows they want the pony . Only the most despicable sub humans are involved in horse slaughter.

  • Carrie Arrington

    Mia, you are mistaken. Kill buyers go to EVERY auction at Enumclaw, don’t kid yourself. The horses are then shipped to Mexico or Canada for slaughter. I personally KNOW a kill buyer in western Washington, so don’t argue with me. Where you get the idea that they mostly find wonderful homes is a mystery. You clearly have VERY limited knowledge regarding the subject. The last American horse slaughter plant closed in 2007, so now the ship. Stop spreading ignorance, and put the effort into gaining knowledge.

  • tired worker

    This is one stupid law. Tell anyone who owns and loves a horse, pony, goat even a pig that it isn’t a pet or what some people call furry family.

  • janice

    How is this true I just met a lady the other day walking her pony down the road. I asked her oh I didn’t know you could have a pony as a pet and she said that because it was under a certain height that it could be her pet. So who’s lying now. The people should be able to have the pony

  • Debbie roscoe

    This is wrong this needs to have a law in place to protect animals in need of people who can care for the horse they should be allowed to be granted ownership of the horse .

  • Susan Deming

    If they want to adopt the pony….go to the sale and bid on the pony. Simple. And…they are livestock…not pets.

  • Megan

    Weird, because our local shelter will adopt out horses. Not ponies but horses! A few years ago there was a bunch held there before moving some. Sheep and other livestock are adopted out there too. So wtf?! How is this case different from those.

  • Pattie smith

    This is sad that the people that found him can’t adopt him. Instead they want to send him to his death. People we have to be their voice and tell your congressmen that this needs to stop sending our horses to Canada and Mexico to be killed

  • Roads End Llamas

    The comment by the county auditor that the animal must go to auction is not quite accurate. The county CAN if it chooses, release the animal to appropriate non-profit animal rescue organization for care and/or re-homing. Happens ALL THE TIME with livestock…

  • Linda Mestrovich

    I live in WA state, and I’ve got to tell you that this state has some of the most ridiculous laws that are still active from the super old days. As for Animal laws, these people really need to get their stuff together, and start putting some thought into animal protection laws The only people and I consider my pets “People” they protect in WA are children. Everyone else, can just suffer. It’s how it is, really outrageous.

  • Lady Fiona

    What they need to do is go to the auction and purchase the pony. Ponies that size rarely go for very much at auction hardly being more than a mouthful, so to speak, to the kill buyers.