Sadly far too many horses end up neglected and abandoned and many end up in rescues. Rescues are at times not properly run and their adopters are not properly looked into. One horse rescue is a shining example of what a rescue should be: Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue located in Glenville, PA.
Let me begin by introducing you to an amazing woman. Jo Deibel is far more than just another pretty face she is a mother of four, intelligent, kind, generous and dedicated to her love of horses. Jo gave up her successful career in the restaurant business to make rescuing horses her full time job. Jo spends most of her time driving 60 miles to Lancaster, PA where horses are auctioned off from racetracks all across the nation. She finds the horses that are identified as for slaughter and buys them. She brings the horses back to Angel Acres where they are immediately quarantined, inspected and made healthy again. Once the horse is returned to health he or she is put up for adoption.
Jo is also active in the Humane Society and American Humane Society. When I asked her why she has dedicated her life to saving horses Jo tells this story:
'An abused, starved, and neglected Amish work horse was taken to the auction and was deemed to emanciated to be sold. The auctioneer came up to me that day and asked if we could take her and give the man $50. If we didn't take her he said the man would take her out back and shoot her. I am NOT kidding when I tell you that this mare was a 1 on the scale...we got her home and she lived less than 24 hours.
She had one night where someone loved her, kept her warm and took care of her. The next day she had to be euthanized because she was too weak to stand and kept falling and hitting her face on the ground over and over. We tried to help her. The vet tried to help her. We all cried for this mare we knew only one day. It was one of the WORST days of my rescue and personal life.
She was a chestnut mare, about 10 to 12 years old that had literally been worked to death. This is how many horses are treated, like farm equipment. When they have been used up and are no longer able to work they are discarded like yesterdays newspaper for a newer, younger, more efficient model. It SICKENS me to the core that people that do these sorts of things are allowed to continue to do so. And possibly the worst part of all of this is that even after giving their lives for their owners, they are then betrayed one last time, by being sent to slaughter.
This country would be no where without horses and this is how they are repaid. This is why I changed my entire life. Why I work for free 10, 12, 14 hours a day, everyday...for the love of horses.'
The definition of the word heroine is a woman of distinguished courage or ability Jo Deibel is that and so much more.
Here is an example of the challenges Jo faces every day. Here is Bandito's story:
"I am paying the feed man when I see a white truck flying down the driveway and I'm wondering who could be coming here this early.
Officer Boyer jumps out of her truck and yells to my feedman 'I need Jo Deibel, right now.' I immediately realize that this cannot be good
Sure enough, it wasn't. This is where Bandito enters my life. Bandito's owners lost interest in their horses and just stopped feeding them. They left him in the barn with his dead equine friend for 6 weeks. The owners allowed his friend to starve to death and Bandito was not far from death himself.
Officer Boyer asked if we could take him, we said yes and he arrived 30 minutes later. It was THAT urgent. Bandito was so far underfed that I rated him a 1, which is all most the same as dead.
How can anyone lose interest and not take care of their animals. They are real lives that they are destroying. I can't imagine how terrified, hungry, cold and just plain lonely this poor quarter horse gelding was. His friend died right before him. He's been in there with his dead friend for 6 weeks, he himself starving to death.' Jo explains.
There is no excuse for this type of abuse and in the end there is no real justice for the horses. Part of the problem is the penalties for these inhuman acts are slack. Here in West Virginia cruelty to animals comes with a $1,000 fine. One is punished less for the murder of an animal than a man arrested in a drunken bar fight.
Rehab for a neglected horse is a difficult task. 'There is something called "refeeding syndrome" - it's a condition that occurs when horses are re-introduced to food too quickly - it must be avoided at all costs.
Horses that are starved must be fed a diet of hay and water and that's it for the first few 7 to 10 days, on average. Once a horse, such as Bandito, is allowed to adjust to having food (hay) again, they can have an extruded fat feed, such as Sentinel made by Blue Seal, slowly introduced back into their diet.
We highly recommend feeding small amounts and slowly increasing over a period of several weeks. We cannot stress the importance of not feeding a starving horse too quickly. Horses in this condition are more suspectable to colic, which can be deadly for a healthy horse and even more so for a compromised horse.
Also, care should be given to doing nothing more than blood work and pulling a Coggins test on any horse that has been starved, abused, etc. Once the horse has recovered some of his or her lost weight and is eating normally vaccination series can be initiated. Giving shots too early to a horse that has been neglected and has been compromised is a recipe for disaster. Too often people will want to hurry the process along, but in this case, slow but sure will most often result in a full recovery, such as Bandito.' Jo explains.
In my previous articles I spoke to you about the many horse rescues that take advantage of adopters and use the all ready abused horses as pawns in their malicious games of greed. As a Rescue professional I asked Jo to talk about those bad rescues:
'There are many, many people out in the horse world who profess to be horse rescuers when in reality they are merely horse dealers parading around with 501 status.
'There are numerous cases of hoarders portraying themselves to be rescues when in reality the horses are starving, neglected or worse. I can think of 5 cases right off the top of my head with horse seizures of over 25 horses (one was over 200 horses in one seizure) that were "rescues" they were raising funds on the internet and using those funds for everything BUT horse care.
We recommend anyone wanting to support a rescue to visit The GFAS website to check for an accredited rescue facility to support www.sanctuaryfederation.org
Another great site is the Fugly Horse Of The Day Blog any rescue listed on the right hand side of the page is a legitimate, solid, rescue www.fuglyblog.com
If the rescue you would like to support is not listed on either site, be sure to ask to visit (but do NOT show up announced as many people live on the properties they run) the facility and most good rescues will accomodate your request within a day or week. If a request to be shown around is continually avoided or yours calls dodge...find another rescue to support.
Good rescues work really hard, work long hours, most for no pay because we love what we do...bad rescues, well they love to scream "the truck is coming" and raise money in a panic mode almost daily, yet many offer no follow up of after care...good rescues will use grant writing, fundraising, donations and adoption fees to run their programs.'
Horse Rescues have the largest per animal cost of any companion rescue group and yet sadly they receive the least amount of financial assistance. There is just a fraction of funding available for horse rescues compared to that available to other types of rescues.
Angel Acres has several horses that are now healthy, beautiful and ready to move on to their forever homes. If you have room in your heart and home for a horse in need contact Jo at 1-717-965-7901 or contact them through their website at: angelacreshorsehavenrescue.com.
Let me leave you with The Horse Prayer...Author Unknown:
Feed me, water and care for me, and when the day's
work is done, provide me with a shelter, a clean dry
stall large enough for me to lie down in comfort.
Talk to me, your voice often means as much to me
as the reins. Pet me sometimes that I may serve you
more gladly and learn to love you. Shoe me properly
that I may serve you in comfort. Never strike, beat
or kick me when I don't understand what you want,
but give me the chance to understand you.
And finally oh master, when my youthful strength
is gone do not turn me out to starve or freeze, or sell
me to some cruel owner to be slowly tortured or
stoned to death, but do thou, my master take my life
in the kindest way, and your God will reward you
here and hereafter.