Army needs help finding homes for horses

FORT POLK, Louisiana – The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk is looking for animal welfare groups and private citizens to help find homes for horses.

Fort Polk officials estimate that about 700 to 750 trespass horses occupy U.S. Army training lands on Fort Polk and the Peason Ridge military training area. These trespass horses create a safety hazard and disrupt training.

Sign-up for non-profit animal welfare groups, 501(c)(3), started on Aug. 29. Those with proper documentation of 501(c)(3) status are being placed on a chronological list based on date and time the documentation is received by Fort Polk. The first lot of 10-30 horses should be available for adoption around mid-September to mid-October.

“Our priority for adoption goes to animal welfare groups,” said Col. David G. Athey, Fort Polk garrison commander. “The animal welfare groups will ensure the horses find a good home. We are also encouraging citizens interested in adopting a horse to work with local animal welfare groups and support their adoption program. This provides the best means for private citizens to adopt horses if there is an influx of welfare groups on the list,” he said.

Horses will be offered to the general public only if animal welfare groups fail to pick up available horses. If the public give away is activated, everyone who signed up will receive an email, and the first to respond by email will be allowed to take the number of horses requested.

Working with your local 501(c)(3) may allow a private citizen to be more selective about the horse’s size, gender, age and physical appearance. “That won’t be possible at Fort Polk,” Athey said. “If you sign up to take a horse, you get you get your pick of horses that are in the corral,” he said.

Animal welfare groups and citizens that sign up for horses are responsible for loading and transportation of the horses, along with any other requirement imposed by law.

Animal welfare groups and citizens can sign up to be added to one of the two lists Fort Polk is developing by sending an e-mail to usarmy.polk.imcom.mbx.pao-public-response@mail.mil. Animal welfare groups should send appropriate documentation so that Fort Polk officials can verify their status as 501(c)(3) groups. Please include valid contact information and the quantity of horses you are interested in taking.

“This is a fantastic program that gives the American people the ability to provide a good home for these horses and the opportunity to help the Army by removing this hazard from our military training area. We have been lucky so far,” said Athey, “but it is only a matter of time before an airplane filled with Soldiers collides with a horse on a landing strip or some other avoidable catastrophe.”

Interested parties can find the full details of the process on page 31 of the environmental assessment and the amendments adopted in the Finding of No Significant Impact at http://www.jrtc-polk.army.mil/trespass_horses.html.