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Horse rescue warns about increase in horse thievery as auction house prices rise

Hearts of Horse Haven said that it has seen several attempts to steal their horses recently as the prices of horses at auction houses rise.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Horse thievery may not seem like a modern issue, but Hearts of Horse Haven said that it has seen an increase in attempts to steal their horses.

The nonprofit works with horses that were victims of animal abuse and neglect. They heal and recuperate horses so that they can find new homes, while also educating horse owners about how to properly take care of their animals.

On Wednesday, they said that they have seen several attempts of people trying to steal horses after their prices at auctions rose. Now, they are urging people to keep a close eye on their horses.

"Check your fence lines, check your pastures," said Ashley Ford, the operations director of Horse Haven Tennessee. "If you can have an actual lock on your gate, that helps. But obviously, people can break through that kind of stuff. So just making sure that you have eyes on them all the time — cameras are wonderful. They help see what we can't."

She said horse owners should especially be cautious if they plan on leaving the area for a long period of time, such as if they go on vacation. She also said that owners can 'freeze brand' their horses, which will let auction houses tell if they are stolen. To do this, owners can use a branding iron with a freezing agent to show ownership over the horse.