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Rescue frustration (or sometimes we can't do anything right!)

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  • Rescue frustration (or sometimes we can't do anything right!)

    As background: many of you know, I run Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. I'm a Certified Humane Investigator and have been involved in rescue for years. I've been involved in many neglect/abuse investigations, I've been involved in seizures, I've gone to court, I've rehabbed horses on my own dime. I do this because I feel like I should and feel like it is where I belong. Most of the time, I love what I do. Now, I don't LIKE seeing abuse and neglect, but I like that I can help (if that makes sense).

    For many reasons (the economy, drought, etc.), neglect cases are on the rise. Two months ago, we were involved in a seizure of 57 horses and ended up with 33 of them (24 went to another rescue). We then took in misc. horses from neglect cases, a stray horse, and this past week we took in six abandoned mares.

    Our rescue has over 100 horses in foster homes, over half of them are available for adoption. We actively seek adopters - we advertise on-line, in print ads in horse magazines, via Craigslist, etc. We hang flyers, we talk to people. We send horses to professional trainers to make them more adoptable. We've revised our adoption policies to enable adopters to rehome their horses if they need to (with some restrictions) instead of requiring the horse to come back to BEHS if they can't keep them.

    We almost never take in donated horses - our horses come from neglect cases, are abandoned or found wandering as strays (estray).
    So... my frustration? A week or so ago, we got a report of neglect in NE Texas. I am out of state for a month with a terminally ill mother, so I started searching for a volunteer who could drive by and verify there were horses there before we got law enforcement involved. We started getting emails and phone calls about how we were not doing anything. We explained we're working on it, but the org. is primarily volunteer-run and we can't be everywhere at once.

    So on Friday, the sheriff's office decided they want to seize the horses. I said that we're full and cannot take them in - I have NO MORE foster homes, NO MORE space. There's no where for these horses to go. They call again and I tell them if the sheriff's office can find a place for the horses to stay a few months and will pay for hay/grain, then I'll take them into the rescue but that's the best I can do (that gives us time to move out some horses, get some new foster homes). I also offer our volunteer man-power to help perform the seizure and a volunteer to go to court to testify. I'm doing what I can...

    So I tell the complainants who are emailing that we cannot take the horses in but that this has been turned over to the sheriff's department.

    And I get blasted for 'dropping the ball' and 'letting the horses die'.

    And I've heard that several times "If you don't take those horses in, they're going to starve to death and it is your fault". The public puts rescues in an impossible position - we should only take in what we can handle (I agree). And when we reach that point for the first time in -11 years-, we get yelled at for not taking them in, for not pushing ourselves beyond our limits. So we're damned if we do, damned if we don't.

    In this case, the horses have been seized - but I don't know what's going to happen to them. We're reaching out to other rescues to see if they can take them (oh, and they're stallions. Isn't that just great?). If they can't - what do we do? Will horse rescues be forced to start euthanizing horses like dog/cat rescues euthanize cats? And how many people will scream then?

    I realize this is mostly a big vent - but maybe it'll reach some of those people who think rescues can take in every horse that comes their way. And they'll think twice before criticizing the hell out of good rescues who are forced to say no.
    Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

    Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

  • #2
    No good deed goes unpunished. You are echoing the cry of every rescuer. My favorite is "if you don't take this horse right now I am sending him to slaughter." "Sorry, I can't take your horse right now." "You mean you are just going to let him die!!??" Hello, I am not the one sending him to slaughter, you are so you are the one letting him die. Ugh. Just do the best you can, the ones you do help are eternally grateful.
    BTW, I am all for humane euthanasia regardless of the circumstances.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home

    Comment


    • #3
      Jenn,

      It's the age old blame game Everyone is really quick to pass the buck on and blame someone else for not being able to fix the mess. Too many times forgetting how those poor horses got that way in the first place. You can't be everywhere and everyone at once. And these same folks who are blasting away are really quick to forget just how much you have done and that you can only do but so much. Wonder how many of those "blasters" have shown up to help--either with their dollars or their sweat!

      Many many good thoughts coming your way . . .
      \"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.\" Anne of Green Gables

      Comment


      • #4
        I think you should tell the complainers how much it costs to care for the horses and ask for a nice donation with their complaint. They can offer to foster or adopt even. You are right- you can not take on more horses than you can care for.

        If you take on more than you can manage, you'd become the problem!

        Comment


        • #5
          Jen,[edit] You do a spectacular job, everyone knows you do a spectacular job, and the short-sighted douchebags who can't see past the end of their own noses can go take a flying screw at the moon. Much to be said for a good "What part of 'TOTALLY FULL' can't you understand?!?" Turn it into a media opportunity of how it's so bad now that even the rescues are overflowing and build that into more donations. There's always lemonade to be made from the lemons.
          Last edited by Moderator 1; Jul. 21, 2009, 09:52 AM. Reason: language

          Comment


          • #6
            Don't take those people seriously.
            I would guess those are kids in the summer, time on their hands, reading animal rights sites and just doing what kids do, overreacting and don't really know the real situation how life works and sometimes doesn't.

            The economy is bad, the new administration scary to most in business, because no one knows how what it is doing will affect them, so they are backing off hiring, or even cutting back and letting people go.

            There is more to what is happening with abandoned horses than just an oversupply of horses and people not caring for them.

            I said before that we were heading for animal control now having to take in and euthanize unwanted horses, just as they do dogs and cats.
            No one paid attention then, but it is about there now here too.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cowgirljenn View Post
              Our rescue has over 100 horses in foster homes, over half of them are available for adoption.
              Will horse rescues be forced to start euthanizing horses like dog/cat rescues euthanize cats? And how many people will scream then?
              .
              I hope you take this in the spirit it is intended...but maybe you need to have a needle party...you know what stands any chance at all of finding a superior home...you are a rescue not a hospice for horses....

              regards
              Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
              I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                My favorite is "if you don't take this horse right now I am sending him to slaughter." "Sorry, I can't take your horse right now." "You mean you are just going to let him die!!??" Hello, I am not the one sending him to slaughter, you are so you are the one letting him die. Ugh.
                I've been ignoring that line for years. We get dozens of emails per week from people wanting us to take their horses .... once in a while, we make an exception and take in a horse, but it is rare. I've been told if I don't, the horse will go to slaughter - but I cannot help that. I decided my focus is on the neglected, abused, and abandoned. I give owners info on how they can rehome their horses themselves, and if they decide to ignore that info, I can't help them.

                (I'm not as cold as I sound - I DO care about the fate of those horses people want to donate. But I had to narrow my focus years ago to avoid being overrun. And neglect/abuse is why I got into rescue, not to take in horses people wanted to dump off).
                Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
                  I hope you take this in the spirit it is intended...but maybe you need to have a needle party...you know what stands any chance at all of finding a superior home...you are a rescue not a hospice for horses....

                  regards
                  I did/do take it in the spirit it is intended - and think about doing just that often. And we're already probably quicker to put horses down than a lot of rescues. I just cannot pour thousands of dollars into one horse with poor prognosis and ignore dozens others who could be rehomed. I think there are worse things than euthanasia...

                  I've "grown" or "changed" thanks to rescue. A year or two ago, I might have screamed at you for suggesting such a thing. Now I think about it quite often and wonder how handle increased euthanasias without costing us donations, volunteers, etc. (everything is a balancing act!)
                  Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                  Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cowgirljenn View Post

                    (I'm not as cold as I sound - I DO care about the fate of those horses people want to donate. But I had to narrow my focus years ago to avoid being overrun. And neglect/abuse is why I got into rescue, not to take in horses people wanted to dump off).
                    Calvin said a man came to buy hay yesterday morning...he said he was going to give one of his MANY horses to a rescue because it had navicular and he wanted it to " just wander around a big field the rest of it's life" because he "didn't have the heart to put him down"

                    ok, you'll condemn this 6 yo to stumble around a pasture in search of food on navicular feet for the next 20 yos because you don't have the heart to kill him??

                    grief...I thought "grow up and do the right thing by that animal"
                    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's incredibly frustrating.
                      The rescue I volunteer with seems to run the same way you do, not really taking donated horses but the most needy, before they end up somewhere dire. It is incredibly frustrating to clean up other peoples messes [whether their fault or not] and then get slammed by others who think you're not doing enough, fast enough, long enough.

                      Then there are those rescues' who rake in dough and aren't really saving horses, but brokering/dealing in sales horses. Those take donations that could do so, so much more [save more, rehab more, advocate for more] in another organization. *sigh* like that is ever going to change any time soon, though.

                      I feel very strongly in that idea that this 'problem' we are seeing is not just for rescues and law enforcement, but the horse community as a whole to step up and do what we can. If we each did what we could, either volunteering, donating, or offering help to an individual who is about to slip closer to the slippery abyss... perhaps we could start to make a dent.

                      The bottom line, one that so many just do not get, euthanasia is not inhumane and for many [the horse getting put down and the horse who can then have that horses spot in a rescue] it is the kindest answer available right now. Let's hope that changes soon, until then we really have to be painfully realistic.
                      Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                      http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cowgirljenn View Post
                        I've "grown" or "changed" thanks to rescue. A year or two ago, I might have screamed at you for suggesting such a thing. Now I think about it quite often and wonder how handle increased euthanasias without costing us donations, volunteers, etc. (everything is a balancing act!)
                        I had the same talk about 8 yos ago with a nice lady here...she was annoyed but in the end rescuing past "pulling out of a burning trailer" must be a logical decision made on the quality of life an animal will have...

                        I cannot tell you how many people have come here after getting a "rescue" and they ask basically for the nastiest,cheapest hay and complain about the animals' many problems...I am certain that is not what the rescue had in mind when they sent them out to the folks...

                        just something to think about...a fav vet of mine says about shelter dogs "we can only place in society what society wants in their lives" there comes a point where "horse society" will not want <x> animals...due to age or illness or disposition or whatever...you are essentially a "shelter" for horses...and killing more than a few of them will be a natural result...

                        and perhaps a kindness...

                        best
                        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
                          just something to think about...a fav vet of mine says about shelter dogs "we can only place in society what society wants in their lives" there comes a point where "horse society" will not want <x> animals...
                          Adding to this, we're also so many generations away [in many cases] from the agricultural society we were. Thanks to that so many dive in without knowing what they are getting into. They then do not want to deal with the dirty or ugly aspects of animal stewardship, for a lack of understanding that it's not always pretty, clean or 'butterflies an rainbows'.
                          We're a society who wants to take 6 months of lessons and then waltz out into the ring and take the blue in every class, without learning how to clean a stall, saddle the horse or actually ride more than one push button horse.
                          Horsemanship, in my mind, is dead. And to be honest, we stood by while it was murdered.
                          Things are not going to get better until we are all better horseman and stewards.
                          Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                          http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm sure it's incredibly difficult, but you made the right decision. And though people are lashing out in frustration, I'm sure that anyone with half a lick of sense knows that you're doing the right thing by taking in only what you can manage.

                            You don't sound cold-hearted at all. You sound realistic, and sad as it may be, sometimes it takes a healthy dose of realism and practicality to make things actually work.

                            I was in the position of actually needing a pasture puff about a year and a half ago, and knowing I could only afford to bring home ONE horse was bad enough. You have my sympathy.

                            Thanks for making the tough call, and doing right by the animals already in your care.
                            "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                            -Edward Hoagland

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ---"just something to think about...a fav vet of mine says about shelter dogs "we can only place in society what society wants in their lives" there comes a point where "horse society" will not want <x> animals...due to age or illness or disposition or whatever...you are essentially a "shelter" for horses...and killing more than a few of them will be a natural result..."---

                              So, I will bring up the elephant in the room everyone so carefully avoids, that slaughter was a way to have one more use of some of those unwanted horses, rather than now those horses adding to the problem we hvae always had of some horses that didn't get adequate care.

                              Slaughter may have had many problems, but if we had worked on them, no matter how long that would have taken, not closing slaughter blindly, we maybe would have enough room and assets still to help the truly needy horses that fall in bad situations.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
                                grief...I thought "grow up and do the right thing by that animal"
                                When people call/email us with those types of horses, I've told them that they need to discuss making a 'quality of life' decision with their veterinarian.

                                Most recently it was someone with a mustang gelding that bites, kicks and attacks people. Our fostering coordinator told her she needed to put the horse down. The woman said, 'Oh no, I am an animal lover. I can't kill him!'

                                We even offered to PAY for the euthanasia if that was the issue - but no, she's an animal lover. (rolling my eyes) We, on the other hands, are animal haters I guess.
                                Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                  ---"just something to think about...a fav vet of mine says about shelter dogs "we can only place in society what society wants in their lives" there comes a point where "horse society" will not want <x> animals...due to age or illness or disposition or whatever...you are essentially a "shelter" for horses...and killing more than a few of them will be a natural result..."---

                                  So, I will bring up the elephant in the room everyone so carefully avoids, that slaughter was a way to have one more use of some of those unwanted horses, rather than now those horses adding to the problem we hvae always had of some horses that didn't get adequate care.

                                  Slaughter may have had many problems, but if we had worked on them, no matter how long that would have taken, not closing slaughter blindly, we maybe would have enough room and assets still to help the truly needy horses that fall in bad situations.
                                  As many or more horses are going to slaughter this year as last and the year before when there were plants here in the US. Slaughter is still a very viable, legal and booming business in this country.

                                  That navicular horse who is in need of retirement is not legal to ship, per USDA regulations if he can not bear wt. on each leg.
                                  The skinny ones who are part of a neglect case aren't what the plants want.
                                  The one full of cancer the person cannot afford to put down ins not what the slaughter plants wants.

                                  Slaughter is not a business designed to help dispose of our 'garbage', it's a business that relies on 'quality' animals in good weight to feed a demand.
                                  Does it reduce the number in our country? Sure.
                                  Does it take the nicer horses [sound, decent wt., etc]? Yes
                                  Does it encourage breeders to keep breeding [whether quality horses or not] providing an outlet for their 'culls'? Yes.
                                  Do they offer top dollar for those animals they then make multi millions off of? Uh no.
                                  Unless and until slaughter actually takes any animal, all conditions, they really can not say they are helping with the 'horesy overpopulation problem'.
                                  Yo/Yousolong April 23rd, 1985- April 15th, 2014

                                  http://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/...m-a-sanctuary/

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                    So, I will bring up the elephant in the room everyone so carefully avoids, that slaughter was a way to have one more use of some of those unwanted horses, rather than now those horses adding to the problem we hvae always had of some horses that didn't get adequate care.

                                    Slaughter may have had many problems, but if we had worked on them, no matter how long that would have taken, not closing slaughter blindly, we maybe would have enough room and assets still to help the truly needy horses that fall in bad situations.
                                    I'm not shooting you down - but I see a couple of issues.

                                    The big one is - I can't blame the increase in neglect on not having slaughter as an option. Horses are still shipping out of Texas - and these people we end up seizing horses from don't want their horses going to slaughter. Most of them wouldn't send their horses to an auction even when given that option by law enforcement (the 'You can take your horses to auction and get something out of them or we're going to seize them and you are going to go to court' deal has been offered to many of these people).

                                    And as a rescuer, if I took in horses to send them to slaughter, that would be the end of my rescue. I'm not speaking from MY emotional place where I can't stand slaughter here, either. But from the view of the donors, the foster homes, the adopters. They would run for the hills.

                                    I think the closure of US slaughter houses may be a bigger issue in increased neglect and abuse in places further from the border. I can't imagine hauling horse from he midwest to a Mexican slaughter house could be at all profitable right now, but there are still slaughter buyers at work in Texas.

                                    I do understand where you are coming from, Bluey (I think). If we're to the point of talking about euthanizing horses we don't have room for, it seems a shame to waste anything useful. I'm not so attached to the "bodies" once the horses are gone (although I might change my tune when it is one of my personal horses).

                                    It is a tough subject all around (rescue frustrations, slaughter, what to do with the horses, etc.).
                                    Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                    Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I agree to all you have to say, but in our area, the closing of slaughter definitively was the main reason horses are being abandoned, as a very direct result, as it is too far to travel to get just a few here for those traders that bought the lower end horses.

                                      Now, traders are only concentrating in the places that are closer to the foreign plants.
                                      That disrupted the horse market where they are not so nicely situated, as here.

                                      That is why the closing of the plants caused horses to be abandoned, in our area and I have heard many others.
                                      I know that was not the only reason, but it is one more reason.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Jenn - I know, I know. And I am so, so sorry.

                                        That is why we started Special Horses, to help out because many of us can't foster, and to help educate.

                                        Big hugs. I know this is an especially difficult time for you. I just wish these people could see the situation from your eyes.
                                        Last edited by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"; Jul. 19, 2009, 12:38 PM.
                                        www.specialhorses.org
                                        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

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