So-called Rescues and their Constant Plea for “Bail”

The Truth about Kill Pens
Read this article by clicking on the photo

When I was about six years old, I wanted a turtle. One of those tiny ones, the size of a quarter, that you bought at the five and ten. My father refused. He explained that every turtle they sold made it possible for them to buy five more. And that those turtles led terrible lives.

When I look at the brokers — Another Chance for Horses (thankfully shut down), Moore’s, or Cranbury — I see the horse equivalent to those turtles. For every one of the horses bailed from a broker (I’m not talking about going to an actual livestock auction like New Holland), you enable them to buy five more horses. Horses that you’ll probably never see because the do get sold to kill buyers, without the social media outrage. However, what makes these places so insidious is their constant drumbeat of fear. “If you don’t ‘bail’ this horse, it will go to slaughter. It will ship Saturday.” Of course that “bail” is typically three or four times more than the broker paid for it, making this a very profitable business.

Recently, I came across a post that is so similar to one that I was planning to write, The Truth About Kill Pens — Are you really saving a Life?, that I’m posting it here. The article provides a lot of well-researched facts about the brokers that may well change how you look at those horses.

Although I also look at the Facebook pages of many of the broker programs, I’m not too worried about the horses going to Canada. As of March 2017, all horses imported from the United States into horse processing plants in Canada must be held in U.S.-side feedlots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers because many of the horses had consumed drugs. No broker programs will keep horses for six months. The horses on the East Coast are unlikely to be shipped to Mexico, so most of them are going somewhere else — likely to another auction. Certainly, the ones featured on these websites. The ones being sold for $900-$1200. No broker will ship a horse that they can sell for that much.

In fact, most of the horses featured by these middle men are bought specifically to sell to consumers whipped up into a frenzy over the impending shipment. Take a look at the number of views some of these horses get on Facebook — way into the thousands. Facebook and and Forums provide a ton of free advertising. And the ones that don’t sell the first time? There are always people fundraising for them. I get at least one email a week asking for money to save the horses.

Where do these horses come from? Some are bought from breeders, some are bought privately, and many are picked up at auctions in other parts of the country. People who watch the auction sites can track the progress of a particular horse across the country. The bottom line is that if a broker is unwilling to sell it for kill prices plus $200, they will keep running it through auctions until someone buys it.

I’m not opposed to rescuing horses. There are some great horses that end up at New Holland, or similar auctions, through no fault of their own. There are also many legitimate rescues that take horses people can’t care for, help racehorses transition to new careers, or buy from auctions without the hysteria or the business proposition. If you want to rescue a horse, go to one of them. Don’t keep lining the pockets of the brokers because, like the turtles, the horses you buy from them keep the industry going.

 

 

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Buy a bale for Christmas

Nevins Farm Buy a BaleStill looking for that ultimate, easy, no brainer, feel good Christmas gift? For just $7 you can “Buy a Bale” for the rescue horses at The MSPCA’s Nevins Farm in Methuen, Mass.

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You can buy a single bale or become a monthly donor. Do it for yourself or do it in the name of a friend. Nevins Farm does a terrific job of helping horses in need. Now you can help them.

What Kelsey Lefever taught us

Kelsey Lefever
This post has gone viral over the past week, with more than 17,000 views so far!

Over the past week, my post Charges Against Kelsey Lefever Bring Deceptive Rescue Practices Out Into the Open, has received more than 17,000 views. For a post that’s more than three years old, that’s pretty amazing.

Certainly the story bears repeating. Kelsey Lefever represented herself as a horse trainer who specialized in training and rehabbing thoroughbred racehorses and finding them non-racing homes. Many trainers gave her their horses; some provided her grain and cash to help her. In fact, Kelsely Lefever sold the horses for slaughter.

The story isn’t important because of what happened to Lefever (she got off with probation). It is important because people are outraged by what she did and are continuing to talk about it. Putting the spotlight on people who are scamming the public for their personal profit is an effective way to educate us about the potential issues.

There are a lot of legitimate rescues that help horses. These are the ones who have 501(c) status

But there are a lot of people and organizations who fund raise online, who play on the heartstrings. You know the groups. They are the ones who are threatening to send the horse in the photo to Canada on the next truck unless they get $$$ today.

How do you keep from supporting the wrong organizations? You need to do your homework. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Is the organization 501c(3)?
  • Do they receive funding from other/larger organizations or are they purely funded by the rescue funds?
  • Will they provide financial information?
  • Can you visit the location and meet the people?
  • Do they have a good reputation? Ask for references, not just from people who got horses from them but from a local vet or farrier.
  • Are the horses who live there in good health?
  • What are their rescue/adoption fees? Are they higher than normal or consistent with other organizations?

The important thing is not to stop caring. Just to care more wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

The kindness of strangers

The Story Behind the Photo: Nearly 25 years ago, Police Officer Frank Pomodoro found himself comforting his partner and police horse, Fritz, who had fallen into a sidewalk construction hole that had been covered over by a steel plate just outside the old District D-4 station which, at the time, was located in the area of Berkeley Street and Warren Ave. Pomodoro was inside the station when someone came running in and told him that his horse had fallen into a hole. When Pomodoro got outside, he immediately feared the worst. A broken leg and he knew that his partner of three years would have to be put down. In fact, according to Pomodoro, the one question he hears more often than any other when people reference the picture of his horse in the hole is whether or not Fritz survived the fall. In response to that question, Pomodoro gratefully offers the following, “He was back to work in three weeks and, luckily, he only suffered a cut to one of his front legs.” The enclosed photo was taken on October 31, 1989 and Frank remembers the day like it was yesterday. “I remember it was Halloween because I had to call my wife and tell her that I wasn’t gonna be home in time to give out the candy,” said Pomodoro. Reflecting back on that day, Pomodoro says a number of things still stick out and have stayed with him to this day. “The compassion of people on that day is one of the things I’ll never forget. It was really amazing. Perfect strangers and even one guy I had locked up came running over to help Fritz.” Pomodoro says the help provided by perfect strangers was especially evident when the Fire Department arrived on scene and secured a rope around Fritz because there was some concern that the horse might slip or slide deeper into the hole. Pomodoro recalls, “The rope fastened around Fritz stretched across the street and I remember there were somewhere between 15 to 20 people grabbing a hold of the rope to make sure Fritz stayed put. The compassion of perfect strangers was unbelievable.” However, the challenge of extricating an almost 1500 pound horse from a hole would require something a whole lot stronger and more substantial than a rope fastened around the horse’s midsection. “We needed a crane,” said Pomodoro. And, as luck would have it, Shaugnessy & Ahearn, a local rigging company, had a crane job going on just around the corner. Said Pomodoro, “We went up the street and told them what was going on and the crane came down and pulled Fritz out.” Pomodoro continues, “My mother was so grateful, she sent a fruit basket to Mr. Shaugnessy, the owner of the company, thanking him for what they did for Fritz.” These days, Pomodoro is a detective assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit. He’s got a few more years to go before he can retire and, although he’s certainly seen the best and the worst of people during his almost 30 year career, Pomodoro says nothing compares to the kindness and compassion he witnessed firsthand nearly 25 years ago. “I met a lot of really great people that day and, to this day, I have nothing but gratitude to those who came over to help Fritzie. I’ll never forget them.”

I came across this photo and story on Facebook — The bond between the police officer and his horse is so clearly shown. It’s amazing how eloquently the horse has expressed its trust in its rider and the comfort it gets from being with someone he trusts.

Here’s the back story to t the photo which was taken on October 31, 1989:

Nearly 25 years ago, Police Officer Frank Pomodoro found himself comforting his partner and police horse, Fritz, who had fallen into a sidewalk construction hole that had been covered over by a steel plate just outside the old District D-4 station which, at the time, was located in the area of Berkeley Street and Warren Ave. Pomodoro was inside the station when someone came running in and told him that his horse had fallen into a hole. When Pomodoro got outside, he immediately feared the worst. A broken leg and he knew that his partner of three years would have to be put down. In fact, according to Pomodoro, the one question he hears more often than any other when people reference the picture of his horse in the hole is whether or not Fritz survived the fall. In response to that question, Pomodoro gratefully offers the following, “He was back to work in three weeks and, luckily, he only suffered a cut to one of his front legs.”

The photo was taken on October 31, 1989 and Frank remembers the day like it was yesterday. “I remember it was Halloween because I had to call my wife and tell her that I wasn’t gonna be home in time to give out the candy,” said Pomodoro. Reflecting back on that day, Pomodoro says a number of things still stick out and have stayed with him to this day. “The compassion of people on that day is one of the things I’ll never forget. It was really amazing. Perfect strangers and even one guy I had locked up came running over to help Fritz.” Pomodoro says the help provided by perfect strangers was especially evident when the Fire Department arrived on scene and secured a rope around Fritz because there was some concern that the horse might slip or slide deeper into the hole. Pomodoro recalls, “The rope fastened around Fritz stretched across the street and I remember there were somewhere between 15 to 20 people grabbing a hold of the rope to make sure Fritz stayed put. The compassion of perfect strangers was unbelievable.”

However, the challenge of extricating an almost 1500 pound horse from a hole would require something a whole lot stronger and more substantial than a rope fastened around the horse’s midsection. “We needed a crane,” said Pomodoro. And, as luck would have it, Shaugnessy & Ahearn, a local rigging company, had a crane job going on just around the corner. Said Pomodoro, “We went up the street and told them what was going on and the crane came down and pulled Fritz out.” Pomodoro continues, “My mother was so grateful, she sent a fruit basket to Mr. Shaugnessy, the owner of the company, thanking him for what they did for Fritz.”
These days, Pomodoro is a detective assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit. He’s got a few more years to go before he can retire and, although he’s certainly seen the best and the worst of people during his almost 30 year career, Pomodoro says nothing compares to the kindness and compassion he witnessed firsthand nearly 25 years ago. “I met a lot of really great people that day and, to this day, I have nothing but gratitude to those who came over to help Fritzie. I’ll never forget them.”

Does FBI investigation of AC4H spell trouble for ” faux rescues”?

The business of “rescuing” horses may have hit a speed bump now that the FBI investigation of Another Chance 4 Horses (AC4H) has been all over the news. Let me say up front that there are plenty of good organizations out there who are trying to keep horses going to slaughter and helping horses find new homes or new careers. I’m not talking about them. This is about the “faux” rescues who are in the lucrative business opportunities of Internet fund raising to “bail” out horses that would likely never go to slaughter, and who often sell the same horse more than once, and who  rack up huge fees for quarantine, transport, vet care and other “services” that are often not provided. AC4H is just one of many. Some of the other ones who have been questioned for their business practices were Columbia Basin Equine Rescue (I think this one has closed) and Crossed Sabers/Second Wind Adoption.

So, what’s happening with the “faux” rescues?

Rescues that have questionable business practices share some of the same tactics. Here are some of the problems that have been reported with them.

Fundraising several times for the same horse or selling them more than once

Some people complain that the Internet-based, bail-them-out rescues unduly mark up the cost of the horses. Browsing the Internet you’ll see that the average price to buy a horse to prevent them from “getting on the truck” is about $600. These are horses that the broker paid $50 to $100 dollars for at auction. But that’s not the problem. That’s just business and if people want to pay more for a horse than it’s worth? That’s just horse trading.

The problem occurs when people send money to bail the horse and it still goes to slaughter. Or it is sold twice.  Or it disappears after being purchased/bailed. There are plenty of examples of horses being bailed more than once . . . of funds being raised well in excess of the stated price . . . and then the adopter being told the horse had died, been injured or was otherwise no longer available for adoption. Here’s an example of what happened to one person:

I picked the horse i wanted, got approved, and agreed on a day to pick her up. After driving all the way to the location i was greeted by a man i had no prior contact with. We went into a barn where the horses were standing in filth, then he brought me the wrong horse! I showed him a picture of the mare i had gotten, and he said she was not there. After texting Christy, Phil, and talking to the man who was at the location(who even tho he said he didnt know much about what these people did, he knew enough of their names), they had no good answer as to what could have happened to her. So after i waisted my entire day driving, over $150 in fuel, wear and tear on my truck and trailer all they had to say was, “i dont know where she could have went, sorry”

Fundraising for horses they don’t own

Then of course there are the folks who never even bother to deal with real horses. This “rescue”  is a pure profit operation!

We received a phone call letting us know that one of our riding horses is for sale on a rescue website in Texas. The owner of the “rescue” and website posts pictures of other people’s horses along with the horse’s actual information including price. She doesn’t even bother to change their registered names. She takes deposits on horses that she doesn’t have or own.

Our horse is for sale on our own website, she lifted his pictures and information to put on her site. The horse’s name is Chips Ahoy Leroy and he has never been outside southern Indiana. The lady who called to inform us had the same thing happen to her and one of her horses.

Fundraising for horses that are not candidates for slaughter

Another ploy is to feature horses that are at no risk for going to slaughter but who have great fundraising appeal. Slaughter houses typically do not want ponies (especially minis), lame horses, sick horses or grays (because of melanomas). And yet the rescue pages are full of minis who are “at risk” and available for adoption for $400+ (AC4H has several on its broker pages now). Or breeds that attract a lot of attention from breed organizations.

Here’s a statement from someone familiar with Brian Moore’s auction purchases:

I personally attend the auction where Brian buys his horses. He buys under multiple numbers. He buys the horses he is actually sending directly for slaughter, and then buys horses Christy has told him are in demand through her program (i.e. standardbreds, saddlebreds, morgans, minis, ponies). The two groups are purchased under different numbers. He will buy up to 100+ horses at an auction each week…however how many new ones do you see on their site?

They also used to work with Jesse Austin (a broker, no longer a kill buyer). I would attend auctions with him, watch him “pick out” the horses he knew AC4H could sell, and then trailer them over to their “pick up barn” jump on the horses and ride them around for pics and video. Jesse is not, and has not been a kill buyer for years, his horses were never at any risk of going to slaughter, however that is what they lead everyone to believe.

You can look at the shipping information from Brian Moore’s slaughter business in 2010 here. These documents were obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. I went through about 50 pages and saw no ponies and no grays listed.

Not providing care

Many rescues provide a quarantine period for the horses that are purchased. This is, in theory, a good idea as horses that are run through auctions can be exposed to many contagious diseases. The problem arises when the facilities are not equipped for care. I personally have seen a horse that lost considerable weight from the time he was shown on one of these “rescue” websites and when he arrived.

Another adopter posted a similar experience.

What I will say is that the horse was in good weight in his photos and videos. When he arrived in quarantine (a week later?) he was practically emaciated. Every rib showing, hind end sunken in, hips sticking out, and terrified to be caught. I am not sure what happened to him between the pics being taken and him leaving but he was almost not the same horse.

Other people report that the horses they pick up are visibly ill.

I got a pony from there. The coggins was not legitimate because it was not marked like the horse. It was left blank. The health certificate was wrong, the horse had strangles, as did most every horse there, and I was told she had a cold. She was also very obviously pregnant, against slaughter rules.

Here’s another report:

A friend of mine “adopted” a horse from AC4H. It crossed state lines (into NY) with NO health certificate and had to have a vet on scene immediately. The horse had explosive diarrhea, and this “great mover” has retracted tendons in both of her hind legs leaving her VERY lame. As of right now she is positive for jaundice and anemic and they are currently running multiple tests to figure out whatever else is wrong with the poor animal. MEANWHILE, other horses on the property (including my own) are in 30 day quarantine since this horse is in that severe of a condition. AFTER running these tests, the mare will most likely be euthanized

The Bottom Line?

If you want to support a rescue or adopt a horse in need, do your research first. The Internet is a wonderful resource. Certainly, there is some risk when adopting a horse that has gone through an auction and there will always be people who are not pleased with the experience, but if you see worrying trends in the reviews, you should probably not donate to those organizations or adopt from them. Check the financials of the organizations too. In 2010, AC4H had reported income of more than $865,000; they claim that $775,000 went to the horses’ expenses. The math, to me, looks questionable, given the atrocious condition of some of the horses.

If you want to save a horse from slaughter, consider buying directly from an auction or from Craig’s List — but keep in mind that for any horse purchased it’s important to have a quarantine strategy.

And don’t avoid all rescue organizations just because there are a few bad apples. There are a lot of horses out there that still need homes and many people who legitimately want to help them. Just don’t be swayed by internet hysteria.

As for AC4H, there’s no recent news about the ongoing investigation. They are still listing horses for sale in their broker program. Ratemyhorsepro.com reports that the FBI would like to speak to victims 

Rate My Horse Pro confirmed with authorities that a fraud investigation is underway into the organization’s business practices. Currently, the feds say they are looking into issues of horses that were misrepresented, where either a different horse was received than expected or the animal was altered in some way.

FBI Special Agent Charlene Trux says investigators also want to speak with those who may have purchased a horse, but never received one.
 
Also of interest are situations where services, like a coggins or health certificate, were paid for, but were never supplied by AC4H. If you had issues with the group, and utilized Paypal, fax, or mail – your story may also be of interest.
 
The FBI is asking only those with first hand information to call Special Agent Charlene Trux at 610-433-6488 and leave a message. If you know someone who you believe may be a victim, investigators ask that you encourage them to call.

Arabian horse swims two miles out to sea!

Arabian horse rescued at seaWilliam, an William an Arabian horse owned by Mindy Peters was spooked by waves on a Santa Barbara, Calif. beach during a photo shoot. He threw his rider but instead of running inland to safety, he ran into the water and started swimming!

He was involved in a photo clinic but appeared to have been spooked by the waves. He reportedly unseated his rider and ran, heading for the surf. Although the harbor patrol was summoned right away, the 6-year old gelding swam two miles out to sea (heading toward oil rigs) before firefighters aboard a rescue boat hooked the gelding’s reins with a boathook and were able to bring him alongside the boat.

Once they caught William, rescuers were able to attach a tow line under the horse’s saddle and pull him back to shore.

Other than being tired (he was in the water for nearly three hours), a veterinarian reported that he was in good shape.

Order your Hope and Horses Calendar NOW

Horses and Hope: Calendar from Sarah K. Andrew
Horses & Hope the 2012 Calendar from Sarah K. Andrew. 100 % of the profits will be donated to One Horse at a Time. What a great way to donate to a good cause and enjoy Sarah's amazing photography every month.

Sarah K. Andrew and HoofPrints have teamed up to create a 2012 calendar, titled Horses and Hope: My Year at the Auction. If you aren’t already aware, Sarah takes photos every week of horses that are at the Camelot auctions. Her photos do an incredible job of capturing the personalities and conformation of the horses and the quality of her images I’m sure goes a long way toward helping them find a safe landing.

The calendars cost $14.95 each and 100% of the profit from the sales of the calendars will be donated to One Horse at a Time, a 501(c)(3) organization. Sarah especially likes the fact that OHAAT writes “gelding grants” to help stallions find homes. Her hope is that a good part of the funds from the calendar can help with gelding grants and clinics. So far, the calendar sales have brought in $26,000! Make sure you buy one — they make great gifts and they are for a well-deserved cause.

Sarah wrote:
The calendar contains over 100 photos of horses, and represents almost two years of volunteer work. Since the Camelot Auction volunteer effort began, over 2,800 horses have been given another opportunity at new homes through a massive social networking effort.Every week, I photograph all of the horses who have been sold to the feedlot, and the photos in the calendar were many of my favorites. The purpose of the calendar is to inspire people to look at horses in need in a different light. Although the photos were all taken at Camelot Auction, my hope is that it encourages other people to think about their own local efforts to help horses. In addition to photography, the calendar contains some positive quotes and information about how to help in your local equine community. We worked very hard to give the calendar a “can-do” theme, instead of a gloomy one.
You can click here to order the calendar: http://www.hoofprints.com/organizers.html
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