A preliminary injunction was served to Fort Polk today by a horse advocacy group who wants the Army base to stop removing horses from the property.
Due to concerns for military personnel safety and training capabilities, Fort Polk has been attempting to enact a plan to eliminate an estimated 700 horses from the Army base.
As a result, animal rights group Pegasus Equine Guardian Association filed a lawsuit in December 2016, naming the U.S. Army and Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito as defendants.
Part of Fort Polk’s plan is to corral horses in small groups and select nonprofit groups to adopt them.
Kim Reischling of Fort Polk’s Public Affairs Office stated in December 2017: “Fort Polk completed the Environmental Assessment for the Elimination of the Trespass Horses from Fort Polk and successfully removed approximately 60 horses under the approved process.”
“The majority, 45 to be exact, of the Fort Polk horses were adopted to Texas families or rescues and another 26 were transported out of state by our partnering rescues,” Cassie Lackey, Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) Communication Relations Manager stated in an email. “Unfortunately, six were euthanized due to untreatable health issues.”
One of Pegasus’ concerns is that most nonprofit animal welfare organizations may not have the capacity or resources to accept horses in large quantities.
The suit claims, “Since many of the horses are un-domesticated, they are not attractive to individuals seeking to adopt a riding horse.
“The Army will sell horses that are not adopted. But horses sold at auction are often bought by kill-buyers, and transported to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.”
Lackey cannot speak for other organizations but she says this is not the case with HSNT. “We absolutely do not sell to slaughterhouses, nor do the partnering rescues we work with,” she stated. “Our partnering rescues and equine adopters are all screened.”
In a court document, Jeff Dorson, head of the Humane Society of Louisiana, said he recently received tips about the inhumane treatment toward some of the Fort Polk horses.
Pegasus also received allegations that "current contractors or subcontractors are not treating the horses humanely, failing to provide adequate and non-moldy hay and sufficient clean food and water, using inhumane round-up techniques, or engaging in practices that will favor moving the horses to kill buyers over animal welfare organizations or humane adopters.”
Some news reports have drawn a connection between Thompson’s Horse Lot in Pitkin, which is adjacent to Fort Polk.
The Leesville Daily Leader called to speak with owner Jacob Thompson who was not available. However, Thompson’s girlfriend Terra Sanders wanted to explain the situation.
“Fort Polk needed somebody local with horse experience to help them pen the wild horses,” Sanders said. “They enlisted Jacob and his uncles to come out two times per week to help round them up.”
The men went in on foot and lured the horses into pens with feed. They were paid for each horse penned and that was the end of the relationship between Fort Polk and Thompson’s Horse Lot, according to Sanders.
Details as to the injunction served to Fort Polk by Pegasus are not yet available.