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A Personal Request From Habitat for Horses 

IMG_2091They seem to come in every couple of days – used, abused and neglected, every color and kind of horse imaginable, plus donkeys of assorted types and colors. Usually they are still standing, but sometimes they are so weak that we bring they in on a slide and place them in the sling until they can regain their strength.

Last week it was an old, very gentle gelding, absolutely used up and starved until he looked like a homeless reject, with matted hair and skin sprayed over his bones. The cops called us, they did the paperwork and we took him to the vet. He spent two days in the Anderson Sling, then walked off into the pasture around the medical barn to graze. In five days he’s gained 20 pounds. He will make it because he has the desire to live.

We received a call from a Sheriff’s Department in a county several hundred miles away. A paint mare and a little mini needed help. The seizure was done, the court IMG_2239took them away from the owner and now they needed a place to rehabilitate. Of course, we brought them in. The mare will be fine. She’s out in the pasture with the other horses, making friends and munching hay. The mini is another story. Her front feet haven’t been trimmed in years, something that we don’t touch until we have a complete set of x-rays. One look told us what we didn’t want to hear – the coffin bones on both feet have rotted away. She’s walking, somehow, and while we know that it won’t last long, she’s not in pain. When she does start hurting, we’ll hold her tight and let her go gently to sleep. Until then, full rations, daily grooming and a lot of love.

A donkey came in yesterday. He spent four days and nights out in a pasture laying on his side, unable to get his legs under him because he was too weak from starvation. Once he stepped off the trailer, his life changed. Unlimited water, unlimited hay, in a pen next to a dozen other donkeys, and he’s regained that spark of life. Before the cops got there, he had simply given up.

Yesterday I answered the phone and heard another police office asking us to make an emergency run. “He’s just a baby and he can’t get up,” she said in a voice that was barely holding it together. Twenty minutes later our crew arrived to find a lone thoroughbred yearling flat out, all by himself, in a weed-filled pasture. Thirty minutes later they pulled into the vet clinic. It was indeed an emergency, because the little guy was going into toxic shock.

IMG_2210Two vets and three techs worked on him for an hour trying to get him stabilized. IV bags hung, catheter inserted, sedatives, blood drawn, urine tested, they scrambled to lower the temperature of 105 and to stop the shaking. Maybe, just maybe, they could pull him through the shock and bring him back. I watch our crew, all of them tough veterans of neglect and abuse cases, as they watched the medical crew work. One of them had tears, none spoke, one had to walk away.

We named him Zorro, a strong name, one filled with strength. I rubbed his face, swept away the shavings from his eyes, and prayed. Four hours later, Doc and I decided that it was time to let him go. His system had shut down. There was to be no more tomorrows, no more sunrises, no playing, no running. Someone, we still don’t know who, put the baby to a weed-filled pasture and let him starve to death.

The story of four horses and a donkey, all within a week, is typical of what we do. Three people in the office handling paperwork, six out on the ranch handling the horses and donkeys, vets, medications, farriers, feed, hay, fuel – it all adds up to a very large bill at the end of each month, a bill that somehow gets paid by the donations of people that want us to be here, that support us and care about the animals we serve.

None of those five were prospects for slaughter. Regardless of what the pro-slaughter propaganda machine tells you, slaughterhouses won’t buy sick, skinny, close to death animals. They want the fat, healthy horses with a lot of meat on the bones.

None of these five were owned by desperate people that have run out of money. They were owned by senseless, selfish idiots that had rather starve an animals than find a way to feed it. Zorro could have been worth thousands of dollars if someone had trained him, but instead they let him starve to death. There is no excuse for any of these five to suffer starvation. It’s simply brainless ownership.

Either very early in the morning or late at night, I’m at this computer, finding and reposting news stories to this website or writing my own stories. Of late, the reposted stories have centered around horsemeat, opening slaughterhouses in the states or the BLM’s head over heels rush to destroy all the wild horses in America. It’s the same thing I’ve been doing for the past twenty years, plus doing investigations, taking people to court for violating animal abuse laws, hauling horses out of mud-filled pastures, holding on to those who are too weak to walk another step – all without receiving a dime from Habitat for Horses.

IMG_2246Why? If you have ever looked deeply into the soul of a horse, you wouldn’t need to ask. What I feel about horses isn’t unique or special. It’s the same passion felt by 80% of Americans. To kill a horse and eat it is as abhorrent as microwaving a kitten.

We work damn hard to save a life, we spend a lot of money to repair the damage done by mindless humans, travel hundreds of miles and spend countless hours doing all that we can to bring them back from starvation and abuse. In a week, five animals pass through our gates, trying for one last chance at life. It’s a scene repeated at rescues across the nation by people just as devoted as us.

In that same week, the slaughter machine kills 3,385 mostly healthy American horses in Mexico and Canada. That’s 170,000 a year, last year’s slaughter total. Per day – 466.

Zorro was 1 of around ten million horses in the US. The entire slaughter pipeline only accounts for 1.7% of our horses. Eighty percent of the American people oppose horse slaughter, yet it continues.

That doesn’t make sense.

Those who starve horses like Zorro aren’t part of the slaughter equation. We will always have that slice of mindless sub-humans who can’t figure out why a horse starves, that will push the dead body aside and buy another one. But if our goal is to do all we can to save horses from destruction, then those 3,385 horses that perished last week are just as important as Zorro.

On March 13th, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1094/S.541, was introduced in Congress. This bill is specifically designed to stop the interstate transport of horses or horsemeat intended for human consumption. As such, the bill will prevent slaughterhouses from opening in the US and bring to a halt the shipment of horses and donkeys across the borders or overseas for slaughter. Knowing what is scientifically proven, that horsemeat from the US is potentially toxic, it will protect consumers around the world.

All of you know, or should know, how hard people have worked to bring an end to this horrible practice that profits a very small minority of people. We all need to work harder to obtain co-sponsors and to get these bills on the floor, passed and before the President.

Please contact, by phone, your two US Senators and your Representative and politely urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1094 and S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Act (SAFE). You can find the phone numbers of your Legislators HERE. Try it. This page won’t close.

But don’t stop there. Pass this message along to everyone you know that cares about horses and urge them to do the same thing.

Please support the equine rescue of your choice. None of us can do the work we do without your financial help on a monthly basis. Without it, horses and donkeys like those five would have no chance at all.

Just as important are the 466 horses that were killed today on the slaughterhouse floor. It’s hard to even wrap your mind around that number, but every single one was just as precious as those that pass through our gates. Their chance at seeing tomorrow is gone, but we can do something about those still on the way.

Please make the calls. It’s painless, takes 15 minutes, and the horses need you now more than ever.

Jerry Finch

Habitat for Horses


Habitat for Horses is a 501.c.3 nonprofit equine protection organization supported solely by donations. We have around 200 donkeys and horses under our care, plus one ornery, old mule. Most of them are here because law enforcement removed them from their previous owner. Our ability to rehabilitate and rehome them comes from the financial support of people like you. Please support us by making a donation for the horses we all serve. Click HERE to donate