In mid-March 2015, at a horse ranch in Houlton, Maine, the Deputy of the Houlton Police Department, Christ Johansen had reason to walk around the ranch. She came across about 50 horses in a five acre fenced in area that were of different ages, sexes and breeds. These animals looked lean with their ribs showing and she felt they looked like they were in a severely malnourished condition. There was a small barn but nothing big enough for all of these horses and they all looked sick and barely able to stand with no water available for them.
In May, Johansen was given the option to either resign or be let go from her job as deputy. She felt the reason behind this may have something to do with the influence and wealth of the aforementioned farm owner.
The owner of the farm, says that this has been blown out of proportion. These horses are Caspians which is a hardy breed native to Northern Iran. They are used to living in a temperature much like that of Florida. She believes that horses do better outdoors and when they are kept moving; it helps their digestion rather than being shut up in a barn.
There was a number of pictures posted recently on a Facebook page titled Maine Equine which has set off much of this controversy. People from Oregon, Colorado and Hawaii have called the Houlton Police Department out of concern for the animals seen in these pictures. The farm owner has been harassed and even threatened due to these pictures.
Chris Johansen is the creator of the Facebook page and she feels the situation is getting more serious. She also feels there is an issue with the food these horses are given, believing there is also a vitamin E deficiency in their diet.
There is a question as to whether the pictures posted on Facebook are authentic or not. The police chief of the area has been out to the farm numerous times and sees no problem. The District Attorney of Arrostook County is working with the police to do a thorough investigation and says actions will be taken if there are any violations.