A viral Facebook post about 52 free horses is a repost from 2011
12th Jun 2020
52 free horses need rehoming in Ohio because their owner died of Covid-19.
They don’t. This is a repost of a genuine appeal from 2011, following the death of a horse owner.
The posts say:
“FREE HORSES!!!! 52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will go to Sugarcreek this Sat. for slaughter. Gentleman died due to COVID-19 and his son wants nothing to do with them. Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings, 2 yrs. and 3 yrs. old most are gelded. FREE and papered. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes.(732) 618 8243 Fairhill, Md.
Please copy and paste this on your status
I would hate to see all these horses put down. PLEASE someone help they are FREE and papered!!!!!!!!”
The appeal is not a real one. Similar text reappears online occasionally, according to several equestrian publications, sometimes with new contact details. This time, the post specifically mentions the “former owner” died due to Covid-19.
The post stems from a genuine appeal made in 2011, after the owner of dozens of horses, vet Daniel C. Stearns, passed away in Ohio. A friend of his put an appeal on Facebook, saying a number of horses were destined for “Sugarcreek”, a local livestock auction, and listing a phone number for anyone interested.
The fact checking organisation Snopes reported that in 2012, a version of the appeal circulated again, with a UK phone number attached that would charge the caller a high rate. The post has appeared with a number of different phone numbers attached over the years.
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the appeal is not a real one, although it is based on a real appeal from 2011.