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Multi-County Meeting
December 16, 2015 Training
Equine Training for Law Enforcement and Animal Control
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   On December 16, 2015, GERL Volunteers gathered at the Macon State Farmers Market to hold another training class on Equine Handling and Cruelty Investigations. We had invited Police and Animal Control Officers from 42 counties. This is the 9th. time GERL has hosted such a meeting. The purpose of the meetings is to educate the officers concerning Georgia’s Equine Protection Laws and to provide training on evidence gathering to prepare for a winning animal abuse court case. We also provide practice with live horses (transported to the event by GDA, Equine Inspectors) to those interested in learning about the nature of horses and effective ways to interact with them. We teach the officers how to catch loose horses, properly halter a horse, and ways to successfully load a horse onto a trailer. Some of the officers have never even been close to a horse and are, understandably, reluctant.
   These periodic training classes are sponsored by GERL and GDA, Equine Division as a way to partially fulfill Patty Livingston’s “Get Well Plan” which is a path to solving the problem of too many horses, the result of overbreeding, which Patty believes leads to the neglect and abuse we frequently encounter. Two parts to the plan are (1.) to provide education to law enforcement, animal control agencies, and the community, and (2.) push for prosecution, fines, and punishment of neglectful and abusive owners.
   We reached out to Happy Wyatt, Macon Farmer’s Market Manager. She very graciously offered the entire center to us to hold our first training in Macon. Adjacent to the building was the perfect safely fenced, grassy area where the horses involved could be placed for the day. Here Mat Thompson teaches the details of body scoring horses and provides the hands-on instruction mentioned above. GERL is extremely fortunate to have three very knowledgeable and willing instructors for these events. They are Mat Thompson, GDA Equine Manager, Kevin Hearst, Field Supervisor/Chief Cruelty Investigator for Dekalb County Animal Services, and Sherwin Figueroa, Asst. District Attorney with Cobb County Judicial Circuit. Mat Thompson speaks on Georgia Equine Protection Laws and describes what constitutes equine abuse. He also teaches how to body score horses and loves to share his experience in horse handling. He also graciously helps to provide live horses for horse handling practice.
   Kevin Hearst never fails to present an information filled and humorous account of his experiences concerning the proper way to carry out and document animal abuse cases. At one point, he passes out actual photographs of some of his past cases to several teams which include all of the attendees. They are to examine the photographs and give their combined analysis of the pertinent details. They actually did quite well and all seemed to greatly enjoy this exercise.
   Last, but not least, Sherwin Figueroa provides detailed information concerning what she, or any prosecuting attorney, needs to be able to successfully prepare a case which would insure a conviction. After all, what would be the value in doing all of the work it takes to issue and execute a warrent, prepare a case, and then loose the case or have it dismissed for lack of evidence. All three of these speakers are passionate about protecting all animals, through the use of our laws, and making sure offenders are punished. GERL shares that passion. Several GERL Volunteers (Myself, Patty Livingston, Lynne Robinson, Tamma Trump, Anne Ensminger, Cynthia Anderson) provided lunch for all, gave out door prizes to several lucky attendees, passed out weight tapes, class notes, and provided halters and lead ropes to those who wanted to have them in their on-duty vehicles. Each attendee was presented a Certificate of Training and those with the need, were provided six P.O.S.T. Certification Hours.
We were also happy to welcome Cheryl Flannigan (Save the Horses – Cumming, GA) as our guest for the day.



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Georgia Equine Rescue League, Ltd.
P.O. Box  328
Bethlehem, GA 30620

The Georgia Equine Rescue League, Ltd. is a non-profit organization, certified 501(c)3 with the State of Georgia.