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Animal cruelty inquiry may figure in Dallas review of Texas Horse Park deal 

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This article is a couple of days old, but its important to keep updated on what is going on at The Texas Horse Park that is due to open this coming year. ~ HfH

From: Dallas News
By: Roy Appleton

Sarah Hoffman/Staff Photographer Dallas News Through his River Ranch nonprofit, Texas Horse Park manager Wayne Kirk will control the taxpayers’ $12 million investment, but his background comes with animal cruelty charges.

Sarah Hoffman/Staff Photographer Dallas News
Through his River Ranch nonprofit, Texas Horse Park manager Wayne Kirk will control the taxpayers’ $12 million investment, but his background comes with animal cruelty charges.

A memorandum alerted the Dallas City Council: The man who will manage the city’s new horse park was charged two years ago with animal cruelty. Publicity was imminent. The city staff was looking into the matter.

“We will report back to you at the conclusion of this review,” Jill Jordan, assistant city manager, wrote to the council on Oct. 14.

The Texas Horse Park, expected to open next year in southern Dallas, will be discussed at a City Council committee meeting on Dec. 9.

The briefing will include a construction update. It may repeat promises of economic and recreation opportunity. It surely will make reference to River Ranch Educational Charities and Equest, the two nonprofits with contracts to operate the park.

It’s unclear whether the city’s animal cruelty review will be publicly discussed, or whether a focus of that cruelty review, Harris Wayne Kirk, the president of River Ranch, will be mentioned.

Control of $12 million

Kirk, 59, is no stranger to big ventures and disputes, according to documents and interviews. And through his nonprofit, he will have the reins to taxpayers’ $12 million investment in an equestrian center near the Trinity River.

He touts his years of caring for and rescuing horses. He blames disgruntled employees for the cruelty complaint against him and brandishes letters of support for his activities.

“I know Wayne Kirk has always nurtured trail horses,” Tambi Arnold, a Melissa High School teacher, wrote in a letter to Jordan. Arnold, a former volunteer at Kirk’s charity ranch in McKinney, added: “The farm animals are taken care of daily throughout the year.”

Two years ago, however, Kirk attracted law enforcement attention after a complaint to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals alleged mistreatment of horses at his nonprofit’s Storybook Ranch in McKinney.

Responding to the complaint, McKinney animal control officer De St. Aubin visited the property on Nov. 21, 2011. He reported that he “found most of the animals to be underweight” and without hay or pasture grass.

The officer wrote that a Storybook Ranch employee, Tammy Locashio, told him Kirk “would not provide adequate supplies to properly care for the animals.” Employees often bought the horses food, she said.

St. Aubin reported that Kirk arrived during his visit. The ranch president “agreed to provide hay at all times and acknowledged that the animals were too thin,” St. Aubin wrote. Kirk also pledged to have his veterinarian contact St. Aubin that day regarding a paint horse with a swollen penis, the officer wrote.

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