Authorities Ask Court to Transfer Control of ISPMB Horses

More than 500 horses seized from the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) would avoid sale at auction by being placed in the care of equine welfare groups under a motion filed in a South Dakota court earlier this month.

In October 2016, a former ISPMB employee accused the sanctuary’s operator, Karen Sussman, of maltreating horses at the facility and alleged that 30 animals had died of malnutrition. Sussman denied the accusations.

The mustangs, burros, and other horses residing at the sanctuary were subsequently impounded and placed in Dewey and Ziebach County authorities’ care. Under the court order, the animals remained on ISPMB property, but Sussman was relieved of their care. The Dewey County Sheriff Office was ordered to oversee the horses’ care.

Following the impoundment, the ISPMB adopted approximately 270 of the horses to interested parties. The remaining 540 were slated to be sold at auction in December, 2016.

However, On Jan. 5, the Ziebach and Dewey County state’s attorneys filed a motion asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Ziebach County to place those remaining horses under the care and control of Fleet of Angels, an organization that provides emergency assistance and transportation to at-risk horses in the United States and Canada, and Habitat for Horses, an equine rescue in Texas.

Habitat for Horses President Jerry Finch said the organizations would place the animals in approved homes, sanctuaries, and rescues.

“Options to keep some of the herds as intact as possible are also being pursued,” he added.

Neither Karen Sussman nor ISPMB spokesman Howard Paley were available for comment.

Finch said a hearing on the motion is slated for Jan. 27.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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