Donated one of mine to a lion rescue and thought I'd share the experience
Last week, one of my homebreds who had contracted a rare type of cancer was ready to go. I had known this was coming for a month or so. Once the heat hit, he started dropping weight. We tried a couple of things to turn the weight loss around, but it was a losing battle.
I really wanted his life to "mean something" probably because he was young. After discussing options with my vet, I called Big Cat Rescue in Bridgeport, TX to discuss their donation program. They are a big cat rescue and research facility.
I had read threads in the past where people expressed concern about taking a live horse to a facility with big cats. So was unsure how this would work.
On Friday morning, I called and spoke to the owner telling her it was time and we set up an approximate time I would arrive. When we got there we were directed to an area away from the cat pens where there were some holding pens under a tree set up. The atmosphere was very peaceful and he did not seem anxious or nervous at all. Nor did the dog with us have any reaction to the cats.
They were extremely kind and appreciative of us thinking of them. He was put in a pen with water and grass to graze.
The owner's husband uses a gun to put the animals down (they apparently get different species and buy some at livestock auctions when needed). He has had special training for the different species.
I asked whether they had to receive live animals or if one put down due to a catastrophic injury could be used. The answer was yes, as long as it was brought within a few hours of death and obviously hadn't been euth'd using drugs. And as long as they had room in their freezer, which isn't usually a problem.
Obviously, it wasn't a pleasant experience though it was time to help him over the bridge, I was impressed with the facility, their professionalism and compassion. Our farm has limestone about 18" down, so burying on the property isn't an option. We have had our others picked up and buried at Pine Hill, but it is nice to know that there is another option available.
For those in the North Texas area, their website is bigcatcare.org. They are actively involved in genetic research of African lions and also have mountain lions, tigers and leopards.
I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have. Of course, I don't know how other cat rescues or zoos operate, but feel good knowing that I have a new option during what is always a stressful time and contributes to the circle of life.
How fabulous of you! What a difficult decision to make. My only concern would be suffering on the part of the horse but it sounds like they knew what they were doing. It is not an option I would have thought of. Thanks for posting.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
Cancer is ultimately cell mutation gone wild, I'm not sure if there is anything inherently wrong with it (Leukemia - lots of white blood cells, nothing wrong with wbc except too many kill you).
I'm fairly certain in the wild, animals eat other animals with cancer not infrequently, especially since that animal would be the most likely animal to be caught in that whole survival of the fittest thing they got going out there. Also I'm pretty sure animals that have cancer end up in our food chain as well. Early stages most likely since most animlas are young when processed for our food chain, but if you do the math it's hard to imagine statistically that the process is "cancer free".
Cancer isn't harmful to the eater... it's harmful to the host. Cancer cells are just more cells, is that the way they function is harmful to the host.
I think this was a splendid way to give back. I think maybe I could do that for the hounds but I am not sure I could handle doing it for big cats. I'M too scared of them to be calm during the dispatching. But I think it was a nice way to keep the cycle of life going and I am glad they handled it so well for you.
Bless your heart, I am so sorry you had to lose a horse. I commend you donating your horse to a useful purpose too.
I'm really glad to hear that this particular cat rescue had a peaceful area away from the cats... that's another one of my concerns when donating a horse to a zoo/rescue. It's also good to know they will take a horse put down on the farm. Personally, I wouldn't want to have to trailer my horses away from home for their final moments.
Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO
Thank you for sharing your story. Sorry for your loss, I am sure the big cat organization was thrilled to be able to put every possible part of the horse to good use. It is a relief to hear the dispatch area was quiet and away from the cats.
It horrifies me and I wouldn't ever do it with one of mine, but a friend has used this option a fair number of times and I've gradually, kinda-sorta-almost come to terms with it. I'm a vegetarian which makes it harder.