What To Do If Your Horse Is Stolen

Your horse is missing. Experts say the actions you take in the first 24 to 48 hours are crucial if you hope to recover your stolen animal.

Each year, about 55,000 horses are snatched by bands of thieves who often work one area or state then move on when authorities start to close in. Rustling horses is quick, profitable and dirty work. Most horse thieves swiftly unload their stolen animals at auction, where most of the creatures end up at slaughter.

Robin Lohnes, executive director of the American Horse Protection Association, and Amelita F. Donald, president and founder of International Equine Recovery Net, offer some suggestions for recovering your equine safely and quickly.

Steps to Take

Make sure no one moved the horse to another place on the property or is out riding him. In the case of a big breeding farm, check that there wasn't some mix-up on the time a mare was to be picked up and taken away for breeding.

Fax, overnight, e-mail, or hand-deliver your flyers to slaughterhouses, rendering facilities, livestock sales and auctions, racetrack and rodeo managers, and middleman horse traders within a 500- to 600-mile radius. Notify or send flyers to the State Department of Agriculture (Division of Animal Services), the state veterinarian, state cattleman's association, breed association, state horse council, equine veterinarians, neighbors, and area farm or equine publications; some of these folks may be able to assist with rescue and recovery.

A slaughter facility is more apt to look for an animal that carries identification. "If he has no identification, there is no way you can prove that any horse is your horse," she says. If the horse is microchipped or has a brand or tattoo, you can call the slaughterhouse every day and request a scan or inspection.