16;DECEMBER 2015 | HorseIllustrated.com
WE SHOULD SUPPORT good horse rescues. Since humane societies are rarely equipped to take in equines, these private organizations fill a huge need. However, some “rescues” are really scams, hoarders, or horse dealers in disguise. Here’s how to tell the altruists from the underhanded.
Emotional Scare Tactics
First and foremost, be wary of
excessive pathos. Every animal
rescue is going to have some
stories to tell, and that’s OK
for occasionally grabbing the
attention of donors.
However, if an organization
is constantly bombarding the
public with tales of woe and pitiful
pictures, that’s a sign that they’re
deliberately milking tragedies.
This is especially true when the
sad stories are about the rescue
manager’s personal life: medical
bills, feeling let down or persecuted
by others, vehicle breakdowns, et
cetera. Anyone who continually
cries “pity me!” should not be in
charge of what is essentially a very
demanding large-animal business.
Although rescues are normally
non-profit, they are still
professional establishments. Like
any business, they shouldn’t spend
more they can make (receive in
donations), or take on more work
(animals) than they can handle.
Horse rescues that consistently
beg for help, fall short on hay, and
are in debt to the local vet, yet are
still taking in more horses, are not
rescues at all: they are hoarders.
They may intend to provide
good care and rehabilitate and
adopt out all their equines.
However, they amass so many, they
don’t have the time or money to
do so. Neglect ensues. Volunteers
can help this situation, but they
are only temporary relief. Good
rescues are able to responsibly
limit intake and adopt out enough
horses on a regular basis that
overstretching is rarely an issue.
Failure to Adopt
Sometimes rescues act too much
like permanent sanctuaries,
warehousing even healthy horses
instead of helping them move
on. Somehow, no adopter is ever
Or alternatively, none of the
horses are “really ready” to be
adopted. Hoarders also resist
euthanizing equines that have
long lacked good quality of life.
This is doubly shameful, since the
donations keeping one suffering
horse alive could instead be used to
take in a healthier one.
On the other end of the spectrum
are the horse dealers posing as
rescuers. These brokers care only
about a quick profit. Preying on
the public’s sympathy, they take in
donations for feed, vet, and farrier
bills—and pocket most of them.
Dealers disguised as rescuers
rarely bother with any real
adoption requirements or
contracts. They will sell intact
studs and sometimes even
breed mares regardless of their
conformation or health. They
don’t quarantine new intakes and
will lie about a horse’s health and
abilities in order to sell it. They
actively seek out horses to take in,
even from out of state, so they can
sell them again quickly.
These opportunists may claim to
be “non-profit,” but their personal
finances are often mixed with the
rescue’s. An establishment’s 501(c) 3
RIDER;RANT » BY;LAURA;ROSE
Good horse rescues
provide a wonderful
service. Here’s how
to tell the solid from