Stolen Horse International is a volunteer-based service that offers highly customizable missing, lost, found, stolen, and disaster tools to victims, horse owners, and the general public in the equine industry. We also work with people involved in civil situations or those looking for an old friend they lost or sold. In short, if a person needs help locating a horse, or an owner, we do our best to help.
We are not law enforcement or attorneys and do not give legal advice. Get an attorney for legal advice and call law enforcement if you need jurisdictional assistance. We do our best to navigate complex situations for both victims and the victims of scams, often working with both.
We routinely see people using civil statutes to take another person's horses nationwide. While this high level of 'civil theft' is increasing, we find ourselves in situations where even our organization can be and has been used to perpetuate information that may not be correct.
What sets NetPosse apart from social media is that we require an application process to obtain our services with data about each case. Account owners must submit their information in a database system that helps our volunteers stay on top of the issues, updates, and complaints. We also require anyone who feels the data needs to be corrected to follow a similar process.
We offer many tools to victims and horse owners, part of which are cases with high educational value. A recent case in Wisconsin is one of those cases, one we feel everyone can learn from, even us.
There is also nothing new about how difficult it is for a victim in a civil situation to fight the system both legally and financially, giving the wrongdoer an upper hand. Law enforcement generally only helps in criminal cases.
We are not treating the Wisconsin case as criminal. And even though we realize that the person who filed disagrees with us, we treat this case as a person searching for a horse in a civil dispute. Everyone has the right to search for a horse they once possessed by law.
At the same time, we invite the person(s) directly involved on the other side of this issue to flag the report. We do not pick sides and want to hear an opposing side, but everyone has to follow the same procedures.
Civil disputes are messy and will have many different opinions. We do our best to guide people to understand the difference with a combination of the laws we find online and experience. The process also offers real-time education for the readers.
Education is part of the reason we work with civil matters. We understand how a 'victim' may feel like their horse is stolen in civil situations. It feels like it. Even though it feels like it, the law is the law, and all parties need to follow them. We also know the other side and how easily businesses get victimized, which also happens to us.
Read this article for a better understanding. "When horse theft is not a "crime." - Your horse has vanished, and someone else is responsible. But if the police deem the case a civil matter, recovering your horse will be much more difficult, if not impossible. Don't let this happen to you.
We may read the comments presented on another side on social platforms. It does make us wonder which side is correct. Like police officers, we use the filed information until another side is given by flagging a report. Flagging the data gives us a more accurate picture of the situation, allowing both sides to be heard and increasing understanding.
This case, which we are not treating as a stolen horse case, raises excellent questions and should be food for thought for all horse owners.
Only a court can say who is right or wrong in this or any of our civil cases. And, sometimes, the judicial system gets it wrong. In short, make sure when you enter agreements that you do so with the help of an attorney. Take the time to do 'it' right and protect yourself and your horses. You do not want to be on either side of a civil case played out on social media.
Moving forward, typically, to sell property that belongs to another person, if a contract does not give that person the right to sell the property to satisfy the board, the person would need to petition the court for breach of contract and seek a monetary judgment. Then they can use that judgment to get a lien on all personal and real property (a horse is "chattel" or personal property). Then that can be sold with the proceeds applied to the unpaid board. With that said, laws can be different from state to state. So, we looked up a few of them on the Wisconsin state website.
Again, we are not attorneys and are not giving out legal advice. We found this in Wisconsin on the state government's website to help you understand the civil boarding situation.
By law, a stable owner cannot sell a horse without going through some legal action.
WI 779.43 https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/779/IV/43
allows for an automatic lien. Look at Subject to sub. (4). It says every keeper of a garage, marina, livery, or boarding stable, and every person pasturing or keeping any carriages, automobiles, boats, harness, or animals, shall have a lien thereon and may retain the possession thereof for the amount due for the keep, support, storage or repair and the care thereof until paid. But no garage or marina keeper shall exercise the lien upon any automobile or boat unless the keeper gives notice of the charges for storing automobiles or boats on a signed service order or by posting in some conspicuous place in the garage or marina a card that is easily readable at a distance of 15 feet. (4)
It requires going to court to perfect the lien, or at least our interpretation of the law makes us think so. That is 779.44
409.607 https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/409/VI allows the court to issue a judgment stating the applicant now owns the horse, and the owner must sign papers over. At that point, one can sell the horse; that statute also authorizes the payment of legal fees. Or at least that is the way we are interpreting the law. That does not mean a judge or magistrate may see it differently.
We are not a judge, nor are we a jury. We take reports and send out alerts in good faith. We do not pass the information along willy-nilly simply because it is a social media post.
And, when people feel we missed essential facts on one of our cases, we also offer a credible way for an opposing side to submit a rebuttal. We appreciate all the information sent to us in cases like these, civil. We do get the gest of another side of the story this way.
We have not received a flagged rebuttal at the time of this article. If one is received and we see fit, we pull the case based on the information presented, not social media posts.
"Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is." - Winston Churchill