Online advertising won't be an option for the DuPage County Forest Preserve District in its effort to find new homes for five horses from Danada Equestrian Center.
The district is giving Danada volunteers the opportunity to adopt five horses that no longer participate in the Wheaton facility's programs because of injury or retirement.
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But if some of the horses don't find homes with volunteers, district officials won't be able to advertise on the Internet that the remaining animals are available for adoption.
Forest preserve commissioners have added a ban on online advertising to the district's horse adoption policy in response to concerns raised by Danada volunteers.
Last week, a number of volunteers voiced concern that advertising on the Internet could attract the attention of so-called "kill buyers." A kill buyer, the residents explained, is someone who purchases horses to ship them to a slaughterhouse.
"The volunteers are concerned about nothing but the horses," Commissioner Shannon Burns said. "It's only fair that the volunteers have their concerns heard. And when those concerns are reasonable, they should be addressed."
The district requires anyone hoping to adopt a horse to have the financial means to house, feed and provide medical care for it. Applicants also must go through a lengthy process that includes interviews by district staff members and a three-month trial period.
While the district's intention for advertising online has been to find good homes for horses, Burns called for the amendment that prohibits Internet advertising.
She said the district has a responsibility to protect everything in its care, including the horses.
"Prohibiting Internet adoptions puts up another firewall between our stewardship and something bad that could happen," said Burns, who also is investigating how Danada is run in response to volunteers' complaints about the mistreatment of horses at the equestrian center.
There is no deadline for when the five horses need to be adopted. However, officials are planning to purchase two new horses to add to Danada's 25-horse herd.
Meanwhile, the results of Burns' investigation are expected to be released to the public by June.