The Skinny On Jumping To Conclusions On Social Media Posts

Social media is nothing if not polarizing, for everything from politics to horse shows to how to handle a family issue. A horse that lives in Pittston, Maine was at the center of an online controversy last week, with many Facebook users saying that the animal is too skinny and indicating they were concerned for the horse’s welfare.

The 23-year-old gelding, owned by Armand Cookson and Kelsey Radley, of Pittston, Maine, has lost about 100 pounds in the last six months. The couple says that the horse is under a veterinarian’s care, but that they are unsure what is causing the weight loss despite increasing the amount of food he is eating daily. The horse has been tested for Lyme’s disease and will be tested for Cushing’s Disease soon, they said.

A Facebook post about the animal’s welfare had been shared more than 475 times on Thursday, with people indicating everything from ire at the horse’s condition to pleas for understanding that the horse may be ill. Cookson and Radley told that while they appreciate the concern the public is showing, they wish people would refrain from stopping and feeding the horse. They ask that concerned citizens leave a note and they can contact them to address the horse’s welfare.

Pittston’s animal control officer and Maine’s animal welfare director both declined to comment on the horse, but said that the allegations are being investigated. Liam Hughes, director of the Animal Welfare Program, suggested that people not base their impression of an animal or its care on what they read on social media; he suggested that people contact his office if they see an animal they feel is being neglected or abused.

When a complaint is received, the Animal Welfare office sends agents to visit the site, and determine if the animal has adequate medical care, shelter and food. The organization also seeks to educate owners about proper animal care. If it is determined that the owners are not meeting the standards of care or if it is felt that the animal’s lives are in danger, the animals can be removed from the property and legal action can be taken.




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