Honey is a Belgian mare that was missing in action for months; she belonged to a show stable in northeastern Pennsylvania in 2009 when she was two years old. As the business started to collapse, the owner stopped feeding all 32 Belgian horses at the barn which, inevitably, led to their starvation. Honey was rescued, along with seven of her mates, by Gentle Giants, a rescue organization that has a shelter in Warren County. The Maryland shelter became her home and two years later, she was adopted by a wealthy doctor in Virginia. However, Honey returns finally to her home in Maryland in August after a long ordeal that was not at all desirable.
The doctor violated terms in the contract by not notifying the rescuers when she decided to move out of Virginia and settle down in Texas. Christine Hajek, Gentle Giant’s founder, was alarmed when a Christmas card came back to the rescuer undelivered. The new owners, as per the contract, are required to notify the rescuer 30 days in advance if they decide to move a horse and the rescuer will either approve or disapprove that decision. No knowledge of the adopter’s whereabouts soon led Hajek to post status in Facebook about Honey. With no luck there, she hired a private investigator who carried out old fashioned Sherlock Holmes style activities to track the horse down.
The doctor was tracked down in Texas and she revealed that Honey was sold out to a horse trader. Just like a bronco in the old West, Honey was passed over five times from one horse trader to another when one of them spotted a classified ad about the horse in a local newspaper. The seller knew Honey’s story from Facebook and he had no problem in hiking the horse’s price five times higher as he found Hajek determined to get the horse back. The buyback price of $5000 seemed like a “ransom” to the rescuers who transported Honey back from Texas to Maryland. She was at the time 200 pounds underweight but didn’t look abused to Hajek.
Honey has been rescued twice already; the first time from starvation and the second time from negligence of proper care. This time in Texas, her dwelling place was surrounded by barbed-wire fence behind a trailer. She was not neglected altogether like she was by the show stable owner; nevertheless, her health was incapable of surviving a medical emergency. The horse traders did not provide her enough hoof care and no vaccines were administered on her. As she finally returns home in Maryland, the Draft Horse Rescue of Gentle Giants spares her from her Texan nightmare. Among 100 adopted horses, about 20 usually come back to the rescue center.
Christine Hajek's pragmatic approach of following up on the horses given for adoption that contributes to the sustainability of her rescue operation. Honey’s story has a lesson for rescuers that contracts are valueless unless they are enforced and regulated. The relentless effort to find Honey by Gentle Giants sets a high moral standard for others who who prioritize the importance of an animals well-being.