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Article updated: 6/19/2013 12:19 AM

DuPage forest preserve accepts final report on Danada horses

By Justin Kmitch

Danada Equestrian Center's horses are healthy and its volunteers deserve respect.

DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners Tuesday formally accepted Commissioner Shannon Burns' largely positive three-page report on the state of Danada after some volunteers had raised questions about the center's care of horses.

Burns told commissioners that, during a four-month evaluation of the center, two experts were unable to find any sign of abuse or neglect involving horses at the district-owned facility. But she did recommend several operational and management changes and stressed the importance of the center's volunteers to the well-being of the 25-horse herd.

She urged the district to work only with vendors who will ensure the quality of their hay, hire an on-site veterinarian for 10 hours a week and hire a trainer to work with the horses used for riding lessons.

She also urged the district's staff to update volunteer job descriptions and the center's volunteer handbook to emphasize the importance of reporting abuse or mishandling of horses.

"I expect as things go along, we will retain the right to tweak as we need to," Burns said. "I wanted to stress to everyone, because this has been contentious for several years, that positive collaboration is the only way to ensure these recommendations become implemented."

Burns received a round of applause after her 25-minute presentation.

"I certainly want to thank you," forest preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr. told Burns. "I think you did an amazing job."

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