Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a bill updating the "horse and buggy days" statute on liens against boarded horses, legislation aggressively sought and lobbied through the Illinois General Assembly by Horsemen’s Council of Illinois).
"As part of the council's mission to defend and assist horsemen, we worked with legislators to update provisions that originated in 1897, sections that today bear no relevance to the needs of the horse industry," HCI executive director Frank Bowman said.
"Our efforts resulted in the legislature seeing the needed changes as a way to protect horse facility owners from the increasing incidence of what we term 'abandonment in place.' The horse industry is experiencing an increase in such abandonments nationwide due to a decrease in the ability of owners to financially care for their horses, a direct result of the lingering economic downturn and the lack of a viable sales market," Bowman said. "The new provisions are part of our effort to help Illinois horsemen stay in business."
The statute, as it was written, was somewhat confusing and therefore difficult to enforce by the lien holder and difficult to defend against by the horse owner. So, HCI proposed revisions to clarify defined terms, adding sections to make the law more useful to lien holders, enforcing their rights and making it easier for horse owners to understand when challenging any such lien enforcement, explained Yvonne Ocrant, HCI director and equine law attorney.
The law facilitates the disposition of horses that have been abandoned at boarding stables and other horse facilities or when owners have simply quit paying their bills, Bowman explained.
In its simplest terms, the bill provides that stable keepers shall have a lien on an abandoned horse for the cost of unpaid boarding and related expenses for that horse. The lien is enforceable through the sale of the horse at public or private sale pursuant to provisions concerning notice, sale procedure, certificate of purchase and application of sale proceeds, HCI's announcement said.
Full text of the bill may be accessed through the HCI website's "Legislation" section at www.horsemenscouncil.org/hci.