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No euthanization: Eagle Rock horse plea adds to pile of web-borne misinformation

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An urgent plea for a herd of horses galloped across Facebook for nearly a week. The post, now vanished, claimed some 13 horses would be euthanized, if they were not placed immediately with new owners. But this turned out to be false.

In a February 21 press conference, Joey Manos, the brand-new equestrian facility manager at Eagle Rock, reined in the rumors. Apparently, the stables at the Pennsylvania Blue Mountain ski and golf resort is not actually closing, and the horses are not marked for death.

The Eagle Rock Equestrian Center is reportedly in renovations, aiming for an April 5, 2014, reopening. A ride and event coordinator and a riding instructor seem to be already on board. Resort managers have mentioned the possibility of hosting birthday parties, guided trail rides, pony rides, and even training clinics at the facility.

The 13 horses are available for placement, however.

Those equines are currently owned by the stables’ previous manager, who is hoping to find appropriate homes for them. This group includes horses of various breeds and sizes, from a tiny pony to larger riding horses.

Until placement, the 13 horses are reportedly residing in the care of Eagle Rock. Fortunately, to paraphrase a popular quotation by the late Mark Twain, the report of their pending deaths has been greatly exaggerated.

Unfortunately, such viral rumors occur all too often by well meaning users of social media.

Who remembers these viral horse stories, which also proved not wholly accurate?

  • 52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will be euthanized tomorrow.
  • Deaf mute girl rides bridle-less horse to honor her late father.
  • Pinto’s body markings spell out “horse.”
  • Texas expedition company offers horse-shooting hunts.

Well, not exactly. A quick study of any of the most popular myth-buster sites will debunk any of these stories.

What’s the harm in sharing horse-plea stories without checking authenticity?

Accuracy counts plenty for credibility. When horse lovers pass along shocking, heart-breaking, or simply intriguing stories that later prove to be false, it can dilute the potency of real stories that warrant such sharing.

For example, a couple in the Southeast corner of Wisconsin currently faces felony charges of animal torture and neglect, after several dozen horse and other animal carcasses were found on their farm. More than 20 sick and emaciated horses were removed from the premises and later placed in adoptive situations.

That story is real. I've personally spoken with several of the law enforcement officers, veterinarians, and animal rescue experts involved directly in the case. I've seen the horses and other animals that were rescued.

But, when horror tales or urgent pleas are posted without proof (like the Eagle Rock horse euthanization rumors), onlookers may not pay attention to authenticated stories. It’s a little like the fabled boy who cried, “Wolf!” a few too many times, just for attention. No one believed him, and no one bothered to answer.

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