The Day the Internet Saved 52 Horses in Barnesville, Ohio

Earlier today, I noticed a few Facebook status updates that read:

52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will go to Sugarcreek this Saturday for slaughter. Gentleman died & his son wants nothing to do with them. Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings, 2 yrs/3 yrs old most are gelded. FREE & papered. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes 440-463-4288 or 440-463-4288 Barnesville, OH.

Then I saw some posts about how all 52 horses had been rescued. Awesome, right? Well, then I saw a note that the whole thing was a hoax and/or a scam. I altered this blog post a few times, going back and forth on scam/no scam. But after several comments about the authenticity of this amazing story (and some awesome commenters who left a few links), I’m happy to report that this story is true. It’s legit. People are awesome, and social media is a powerful tool.

I was able to piece together a Facebook post/thread from Lynn Boggs. Lynn appears to be the original source of this entire event. It’s amazing that her original Facebook status update went viral. Well, this is the era of social networking, so maybe it was meant to go viral – almost like it had no choice! It all started on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011:

Original Facebook Status Thread by Lynn Boggs regarding the 52 horses in Barnesville, OH
Original Facebook Status Thread by Lynn Boggs regarding the 52 horses in Barnesville, OH

So there you have it. Dr. Daniel Charles Stearns III (1921-2011) was obviously an amazing person who meant so much to so many (people and animals!). His recent passing left 52 horses in need of care. And the internet came to the rescue.

One of my favorite parts about this story is the role that Twitter and Facebook played. Here, the Humane Society says that all 52 horses have been rescued:

The Humane Society Announces the 52 horses have been rescued
The Humane Society Announces the 52 horses have been rescued

@humanesociety: To those concerned about the 52 horses in OH, we have heard word that they have all found homes.

And here is a Facebook update from Jillian Michaels Facebook (link) that mentions the 52 horses:

Jillian Michaels says we should all get badges for helping
Jillian Michaels says we should all get badges for helping

ok crisis averted! All the horses officially have homes. Nice work everyone. We should get some sort of girlscout / boyscout badge for this one no?

Yes, there were several other famous people, sites, blogs, and forums who also pitched in. I’m sure you can find them. I just wanted to brag about the power of social media and the good will of people. And I’m pretty sure this viral event will turn out better than the most recent charitable viral sensation, Ted Williams. Poor guy. Too much, too soon. Let’s hope these horses don’t drift back into a life of booze and drugs. And I digest…

Yep. 52 horses were saved from the glue factory today. I think that’s pretty damn awesome. Go social media!

BTW, thanks to commenters Marc, Melissa and Kelly for helping me out on this one. 🙂

And now, enjoy this picture of horses. They are awesome creatures.


41 Replies to “The Day the Internet Saved 52 Horses in Barnesville, Ohio”

  1. i appreciate your efforts to separate fact from fiction here, but feel obliged to point out that your methodology is a bit flawed. google is good, but they’re not perfect. in you search examples, you should click through and see what is on the pages. there are posts about these horses, but they were all made in the past week or so.

    doc stearn was a real person and he did pass away last week. i’m not sure why this story went viral, but let’s not pretend that there were people faking his death for the past few years.

  2. Did you actually click and look at any of the results you pulled up?? I Did and most of the 2008 dates are when the posters joined whatever forum they posted the Horse rescue, NOT the date of the News………Actually research something before you post it as a scam! You make yourself look stupid! Go ahead, click on the results, you WILL see that the dates of EVERYTHING posted are from jan 31st 2011 to feb 2 2011!! Wow, no wonder the internet is so unreliable with people like you blogging about scams that arent really scams! The womans FB, the farm and everything is real, typing in a phone number that can be used and reissued to another proves nothing!

  3. While this one event was a scam, the truth of the matter is that REAL stories of horses needing rescuing happen every day. The economy took a huge toll on the horse industry with thousands of horses left neglected or homeless, and greedy people creating more and more puppy-mill style.

    There are no shortage of horses in North America needing help right now, so if anyone wants to feel good about helping some of these animals, please go ahead and do so!

    Here’s a link to a real story of hundreds of horses in immediate need of help (This is NOT a scam, I wish it were TBH). One greedy breeder whose property was foreclosed and he left hundreds of horses behind to fend for themselves. One horse has been walking around on a broken leg for over a year, and all of them are at various levels of starvation.

  4. Pretty sure this one was NOT a hoax – several folks on forums I’m on were out there and saw the horses, went to look at them, etc (several days before it went viral on line).

    52 horses potentially going to a low end auction where they might sell for slaughter isn’t exactly unusual, either. Hundreds go every single week – not sure why this one got so much traction, but I would not be surprised if at some point people tried to take advantage of the visibility of the situation to get $$$, but that doesn’t mean the original situation was a hoax. (If it was a hoax, I doubt the voice mail message would have changed to indicate to people to please stop calling, anyway, they’d have been out for money, right?)

    Of course, now people will be thinking it was a hoax, which means next time there’s an emergency disperal going on it will be harder to get peoples’ attention. yay, social media!

  5. Of course… rumor has it that a dozen of the horses went to a local rescue that is now begging for money for hay (even though plenty of private parties were interested in picking up horses). So that part might be a bit shady…

    (well, rumor, and their facebook page)

  6. as soon as my daughter seen this she left me a message at midnight i know times are hard for everyone but there still are very good people out there thank goodness they were saved

  7. The mounted unit of the columbus ohio division of police is always interested in good horses for the unit. Some basic requirements are geldings, minimum age of 7 yrs. height around 15.2 plus. sound with good disposition and obviously have been under saddle. unfortunately at this time we can only take donations ( can be eligible for tax deduction) . please consider mounted units when horses need good homes , care and exercise. Also, many counties have mounted units which could use horses.

  8. I am so glad that I was able to help pass on this information and that all the horses are now in loving, wonderful homes and will have a peaceful life!! WTG Facebook! (and everyone else)

  9. This was a misleading post from the beginning, and anything that is less than true in my book qualifies as a hoax/scam.

    There are NO HORSE SLAUGHTER facilities left in this country. You have the animal rights folks to thank for that. Not animal welfare, animal rights.

    The result is horses being abandoned to starve all over this country.

    This post was incorrect from the beginning, earning a ground swell of support based on a lie. I have trouble respecting that, regardless of whether the horses need homes.

    Yes, I am a horse owner, including two BLM mustangs I adopted in 2009.

  10. The horses were NEVER in any danger . It was a rumor that has trashed a GRIEVING family. Pat yourselves on the back all you want…I wouldn’t exactly call making phone calls, internet insults and harassment a noble cause. A family is being destroyed for not a damned thing. The horses WERE and still ARE in good condition and care but the family is emotionally ruined. Nice job there people. I hope you break your fucking arms patting yourselves on the back.

  11. this is why I love facebook…. we can get stuff like this done on short notice imagine this on landlines …would of never happened!!!!

  12. The internet didn’t save the horses. People rescued them, the internet was used to get the word out.

  13. Sounds like a lot of questions all round on this one. I’m glad these horses are saved but don’t think the issue is resolved. There are so many horses that need new homes and the rescue operations are stuffed to the rafters.

    I’m hoping that all those disappointed that they didn’t get one of these horses calls up a different rescue and takes one of them. There are enough horses for everyone right now-believe me!

  14. This story was SHADY from the start!
    No connection between Dr. Stearns and Lynn Bogss has been established, except that her boyfriend, Jerry Noss, was the barn manager for Dr. Stearns, at his Harmony Hills Farm, in Barnesville, Ohio.
    A friend took 5 of the (alleged) 52 horses, no papers as of yet, and they are in terrible health! The horses were directly cared for (or not) by Jerry Noss, and possibly Lynn Boggs. The only thing the Dr. may be guilty of is hiring the wrong people to care for his horses.
    Dr. Sterans’ son is reported to have stated that his father’s horses were being placed well before the Dr.’s passing, as they knew he was ill. Also remarked that this story was a malicious lie.
    It’s possible that these horses (however many) may have actually belonged to Boggs and/or Noss, and upon losing their jobs, and free boarding, were faced with placing them when the Dr. died and the farm was closed.
    Dr. Stearns’ vet clinic is still open in Cleveland, Ohio, and I can hardly believe that his staff, including other veterinarians, would have let this happen!
    People claiming to actually know the Stearns family have posted that there is no truth to Boggs’ story, but few people are giving that the attention it deserves. Not one person who has posted knowing the Stearns family has validated Boggs’ story.
    This is too much to ignore. There are no heroes in this story.

  15. “52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will go to Sugarcreek this Saturday for slaughter. Gentleman died and his son wants nothing to do with them. Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings, 2 yrs and 3 yrs old most are gelded. *FREE and papered*. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes 4404634288 or 04046…34288 Barnesville QLD. Please copy and paste”

    This ad pop up on Facebook exact same ad exact same Number of horse’s but there’s a catch Barnesville Qld this is in Australia Queensland. ??????????????

  16. I live right next to Sugarcreek, its a true story, hundreds of horses go there every week and get sold to buyers and end up in Mexican meat markets. Its really sad and that place should be shut down.

  17. I find it highly implausible that all of these horses were placed so quickly. I work with rescue organizations in Maryland, and it is NEVER this easy, especially when a lot of broodmares and babies are involved. Thoroughbreds are difficult to place under any circumstances. This whole things sounds bogus. Big skepticism here. And believe it or not, someone in Maryland just re-posted this as if it were still true/active in July 2011.

  18. We don’t slaughter horses in this country, so instead they drive them into Mexico where there are several slaughterhouses just across the border. Don’t feel too good about yourself yet. Thousands of our American horses go for the slaughter industry to Europe and Japan where they love horse meat. There is plenty of work yet to be done to protect these beautiful creatures!

  19. You made YOURSELF look stupid….read this entire article! It says it WAS NOT a scam.

  20. Karen, I work with a rehoming group for TBs as well, and you’re right, it’s not that easy. But the horses in the original message were all owned by a pretty well known figure in his local racing/breeding community. It was well known in the area that he was ill and the family was working on placing the horses well before he passed away (and I highly doubt they were going to send them to Sugarcreek, though I have no way of knowing that). Several groups of breeding stock were taken by other area race breeding farms and friends/acquaintances of Dr. Stearns before Boggs’s original facebook post even went up. A bunch more were placed individually with locals before the post went all viral/crazy. So it’s not like 52 horses were placed overnight because of facebook (probably more were placed by word of mouth in the area before the post was even made in the first place).

    But I do hear you. We have one lady now trying to home 14 broodmares, a stallion, and various unregistered youngstock, for months now with no takers. I wonder if I was to post on FB with the “slaughter!!!” word thrown in if they’d all find homes overnight. :/

  21. Just as a quick word, no slaughter plants currently operating in the US, however just as many US horses still go to slaughter as before. They are shipped from auctions like Sugarcreek and New Holland to plants in Canada and Mexico. Well over 100,000 horses per year (this may even be MORE horses than were slaughtered when there were slaughter facilities in the US).

  22. i agree with tricia about the fact that horses are being abbandoned because no one can afford to feed them. its pathetic!! there is a clear need for horse slaughtering plants because there is an excess of horses in north america. Dont agree? Think about this, when you go out to feed your horse in a truck, you have your headlights on. Now that your broke and cant afford to feed your horse you let him run wild. He finds a highway and sees the headlights that bring him food, he gets hit and dies a slow painfull geath as well as possibly killing the people in the car. And you cant tell me that theres enough good homes for all the horses who need one,

    In conclusion im not saying slaughter a sour horse, however there is a need for kill plants. i too am a horse owner and lover. id stop eating before not feeding my horse but i still believe we need those kill plants. And why not have them local and hire local folk as opposed to outsourceing all the work

  23. I am an animal lover, and it just tears my heart to pieces to think that these Magnificent Creatures were headed to the glue factory, if not for the Good Deed’s of all the people that help rescue them, A Personal Thanks To Malika Elizabeth for posting the up date on your face book,. But here’s another Gruesome discovery To All The Animal Lover’s do you know that the American horse is being exported into Mexico, where it is being Tortured and in So Many ways,, in there Slaughter house, go to the web site Slaughter homes for horses in Mexico,,I must warn you the video is very graphic, Please if anybody Can help me put a stop to the exportation of the the American Horse being tortured and killed in Mexico, PLEASE Let Me Know i’ve been passing the word around, Maybe there are some Animal Organizations that can help i am Asking You Please i know that together we can spread the word out to the right people and help save these Awesome Creatures, Please don’t wait to long everyday that we wait more and more Horses are being Tortured and killed,you can reach me on facebook johnny hernandez in el paso tx my face book pictured i am with my date i have a green shirt on,or call me at 915-850-6961after 3pm Thank You And GOD Bless You All, Johnny

  24. please join Me in an effort to save the American Horse from being exported to Mexico’s slaghter house, where they are being Tortured inhumanily

  25. Yeah I reposted the plea for help last night too, without knowing it was long over!

    What a fuss for a couple of horses. I bet ya everyone would be horrified to know how many cows and pigs are slaughtered every day in North America.

  26. With the drought in Texas and lack of affordable hay, we have a crisis on our hands. Horses are starving and people are giving them away to anyone willing to buy hay at high prices to feed them. I am seeing up to $150 for a round bale around North Texas and it isn’t even winter yet.

  27. The story about Doc. Stearns dying and his horses needing homes is indeed true. My family lived on his horse farm on Wright Road in Barnesville, Ohio when I was a child. Dr. Stearns was a wonderful man and I cannot imagine his horses would have been in poor health. At least not the Doc. Stearns I knew as a little girl. He was the kind of person that let a little girl tag along after him while he tended to the health of his horses and explained everything as he went along. He helped to instill a great love and appreciation for horses that I still have to this day. As for the horses being placed quickly….this is a loving rural area and Dr. Stearns was a well known man within the racing/breeding community also I believe some were already being placed before Doc. Stearns passed away.

    One of my friends who owns a horse rescue and rehab. farm goes to Sugar Creek and rescues horses. She is an absolute wonderful person to all she knows and a blessing to the animals she rescues.

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