By Meagan Miller Fox 26 KNPN
To watch the full news story as aired on Fox26 KNPN, click here: http://www.newspressnow.com/multimedia/videos/website-helps-bring-lost-or-stolen-horses-home/video_b48bc53c-82cb-11e6-8ebd-9fea6efb0fc0.html
When a horse goes missing, owners have a resource for assistance.
NetPosse.com is an online community and the home of an organization called Stolen Horse International. For a small fee, owners can post a listing if their horse is lost, missing, stolen or simply in the wrong hands.
Janet Pritchett, of Barnard, Missouri, said she knows firsthand just how helpful NetPosse can be. Her horse, Rio, became part of a bad trade deal, which prompted a search to get him back.
She said she traded Rio for another horse, and thought his new owner would keep him and take care of him even though he has a bone disease that left him lame and unable to ride. But when she visited that new owner’s home, Rio was gone.
Pritchett said that NetPosse’s president and co-founder, Debi Metcalfe, helped her track Rio down with the help of volunteers. Eventually, Pritchett bought him back before he could be taken to a slaughterhouse.
“For such a horrible, scary experience, the website has been amazing. They helped us get through it,” Pritchett said.
Metcalfe said she started the website after her horse, Idaho, was stolen in 1997. She said at that time, a study showed up to 55,000 horses were stolen every year in the U.S., but there was — and still is — no other resource like NetPosse.com.
“I just know that ever since our horse was stolen and we started helping people, we’ve never slowed down,” Metcalfe said.
Volunteer Pam Miller, who works as NetPosse’s report manager, said one of the main indicators that a horse has been stolen is a cut fence or unlocked gate and tire tracks. She said horses get stolen often, and people usually don’t think it will happen to them.
“Stealing horses has been around for as long as I can ever remember, and everybody thinks it’s a Wild West-type thing, and it only happened back then, but it happens here, today,” Miller said.
Miller said about 50 percent of the cases on NetPosse.com end in recovery. But she said even when a horse doesn’t make it home, the volunteers offer a sense of community to horse owners.
Both Miller and Metcalfe said it’s important to file a report as soon as you notice your horse is missing.
“We get that info out there to try to make that horse too hot to handle, so to speak, so if someone did steal that horse, they know that people are looking for it,” Miller said.
In addition to NetPosse’s main website, they also use Facebook, Twitter and other resources, including volunteers all over the world.
“Once I got in touch with (Metcalfe), she was incredible. She had volunteers telling me what to do,” Pritchett said. “At one time, I thought he was actually on a trailer headed to Mexico, and there was a volunteer down in Mexico who said he would wait at the slaughterhouse and wait for him. She has resources all over the country, and nobody even knows about it. I didn’t even know about it.”
For more information, visit www.NetPosse.com.
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