I am a passionate, animal-loving, bleeding heart rescuer. At the end of the day, I just want all these animals safe. I want to stop the horrors of abuse, neglect and the disposal of unwanted creatures. But my voice can only carry so far and my dollar can only stretch a little.
So I decided to take care of what I could in front of me. I chose to work within my community to make a difference. It started with caring for and training animals and then it grew into animal rescue and horse sanctuary. Well, my mom always said, “If you are going to do something, do it right.” Therefore, I am the Founder and President of a registered state and federal 501c3 non-profit organization. Even though it was expensive, felt difficult, and took a long time, I knew that it was necessary in order to offer a legitimate service and program.
I believe that if someone has a worthy cause and trustworthy intentions, it is only a natural progression to turn their mission into something transparent, defined, responsible and accountable. In the case of animal rescue, that would lead to the development of a 501c3 organization. The type of organization that requires board members for decision making and accountability. Tax-exempt organizations require a clearly defined cause for the benefit of the public, rules for operating, the reporting of financial records, and so on. Each aspect vital to the efficiency and integrity of a charitable cause benefiting the public instead of harming it or taking advantage of its supporters.
I’d love for all the members of the animal rescue community to be of the same heart and integrity. But it just isn’t so. These sad stories, pitiful looking horses and the threat of slaughter make people panic and want to help. That’s not the problem. Unfortunately, some people prey on that, which is the problem. And to some, they don’t care if you are a good-hearted animal lover or kill buyer, a customer is a customer. So the cycle continues and the wrong people benefit.
Recently, I assisted in the transport of a horse, at risk of going to slaughter. My part in the situation was to pick up the horse from a local “non-profit rescue” and deliver it to a designated quarantine site prepared for by the trainer who was taking custody of the horse for her client. (The said to be nonprofit will be referred to as the group moving forward.)
Happy to assist with part of a horse’s ride to freedom, I agreed to transport the horse from the group’s location to the new home without compensation. Since this was a well-known group, I didn’t even think to check on the validity of this rescue operation.
Upon arrival, I immediately felt concern for the situation. I pulled up to a residence with a chainlink fence securing a group of ill-looking horses standing next to numerous vehicles and old outdoor furniture. It was January and there was no windbreak other than the cars and nothing overhead to shelter them in the event of rain.
Eventually, a man came to the fence and let us in to pick up the horse. The little mare was young, thin and visibly ill. Her head hung with snot dripping from her nose and her eyes troubled by mucous. I loaded her in and left with one piece of paper, an Equine Infectious Anemia Laboratory Test.
As soon as I got in the vehicle, I called the trainer to advise her that the horse was very ill. The trainer was prepared with medicine through the advice of her veterinarian and an appointment for care scheduled.
In the days succeeding, it was confirmed that the horse was suffering pneumonia. Then, the results from the blood work confirmed that the mare was infected with Strangles, a highly contagious equine disease. The horse was treated for her ailments and infectious disease precautions were carried out to protect the neighboring horses.
I wish I could say that the problems ended there but that was barely the beginning. The information on the horse’s paperwork didn’t match the horse received. In addition, an acquaintance had also rescued a mare and foal from the same shipment and she had issues with her situation as well. Questions and concerns were raised about the conditions of these horses, the transport, the money donated to the group, the hazard of these horses entering the community and the kill pen system as a whole.
Now, I’d have to continue a lot longer to provide the rest of the details and exposing all the problems with this situation. There’s a concern for why this “rescue” works so closely and frequently with Bowie Auction, why the “nonprofit” is not registered, what the fees are and where they actually go, and evidence of fraudulent representation and operation. I believe this is part of a kill pen scam and there are a lot of moving parts. I alone cannot explain or figure out this whole situation, but rest assured, the eyes of this horse community are now open.
As I explained earlier, I feel my effort is best focused within my community and where I can do my best to help or inspire change. My intent is to implore the members of this community, and especially, the media to question and investigate the monthly transport of Bowie Auction horses into El Dorado County.
We have a confirmed case of strangles that came in with a truckload of exposed horses. Experiencing that first hand, and knowing that the group responsible has been notified, then why have there still been multiple transports since? If the intentions of this group are honorable, then why haven’t they taken steps to improve their facility to better care for high-risk rescue animals? Are they operating ethically? Are the animals healthy enough to make such a long trip? Are they who they say they are and representing themselves honestly?
As the founder and operator of an animal rescue organization, I truly understand the effort and responsibility required of a nonprofit. Our mission is the welfare of animals and our programs are to benefit the public. However, this group’s operations and lack of responsibility contradict the intent of a true nonprofit organization. Especially, if the community is contributing, then the group has the responsibility of being well managed and truly benefiting the intended.
Auction horses aren’t everyday rescues. The facility accepting these unique situations needs to reflect the nature of the work and danger. They have a responsibility to be set up for the type of rescue they are trying to facilitate. Otherwise, it is irresponsible.
As an established group, recognized by the media, that is receiving community support, and transferring horses regularly, I expect decent quarantine, care and accommodations for sick horses. A legitimate intake protocol, treatment and quarantine should be under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. It is my sincere hope that the group discussed can reform their operations to carry out honest and good work without posing harm to our community.
Members of the community should be encouraged to seek information about groups they intend to support and where they get their horses from. If the intent to rescue a horse has been placed on your heart, then please, visit your local county shelter or reputable 501c3 organization. If you choose to rescue independently, the informative image below might help you avoid some common mistakes and heartache.