Equine Rescue

Update: Death in the Montana Montains

by Jerry Finch ~ Founder and President of Habitat for Horses

Moving Forward, Baby Step by Baby Step

High winds and drifting snow, laid over the top of pure ice. That’s Western Montana in the winter. The mountains, the trees – it all looks so wonderful from the inside of a warm car. The beauty fades away quickly when the car door opens and the first steps are taken, but those first steps are necessary to get the job done. It’s being pretty self centered when those steps aren’t taken and the beings that are living outside don’t have a way to feel warmth or enjoy life.

This is the second week in the adventures of the Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue, a once fully functioning and, on the surface, paradise for a lot of animals. The curtain fell away, however, and what was hidden wasn’t so pretty after all. I’m here to try to make it right, to find people who are willing to pull together and correct the wrongs. Those folks are here now, more are coming and a real rescue is underway.

With over night temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees and the high tomorrow never getting above 12, I would have to think that the people gathering around the animals are pretty dang devoted. Monday morning the horses start the first leg of their trip, going south about 150 miles. There they will get their feet trimmed, receive great hay, start wearing blankets and learn that humans know how to treat them right. The moving will take two day, the basic rehab will take two weeks, most of that spent learning how to walk without tripping over their long hooves.

Up at the sanctuary, a group of folks will arrive with a dart gun and a mess of trimming tools and medication, there to get the camel back on his feet. Both the camels will be gelded. One more overnight stay and the camels start their short trip to a new home somewhere here in Montana.

As will the bison – hairy beyond belief, I don’t think that forty below would bother them a bit, as long as they have hay.

Thursday the blind horse, the goats and sheep leave.

Monday, the llama experts arrive. I’m hoping for a car load of them because I can honestly say that I know absolutely nothing about llamas, nor does anyone else around here. Little did I realize that there are llama groups, llama associations, llama newsletters and all sorts of llama experts. They are gathering in the distance, filing out adoption papers, lining up transportation and preparing to descend on this herd with open arms. As frustrated as I was a few days ago, I am now believing that these llamas will all be transported to new homes and better lives. The first leave Tuesday. More will be leaving very soon, thanks to the vets who by law must take blood on each one before they can be transported.

Wednesday morning I’m meeting with Deb Greenough (google him), who has volunteered to come with a tilt table and trim the hooves of 31 head of cattle. This act itself almost brought me to tears. These guys look so pathetic and are in so much pain, even compared to me when I’m standing out there in 0 degree weather. Some of those cows have heavy, thick coats, some don’t. How they’ve lasted this long is beyond me.

The pigs, the chicken, the geese – all scheduled to leave.

It isn’t over yet. There is a ton of work to do, more plans to be made, more confusion, but it’s all coming together. The efforts of a lot of people, the money from a lot of pockets and the love of a lot of humans will bring a sense of peace to this herd.

In a few days we’ll have pictures of all the horses that are up for adoption, just like we did at Three Strikes. A little over 20 have already been placed, so around 60 more to go. As a slap to the face of the “Unwanted Horse” folks, these horses will be adopted quickly, proving once again that there are no “unwanted horses.” I know for a fact that there are no unwanted llamas or donkeys (they are all adopted), or cows or sheep or goats or pot belly pigs.

“May this herd be delivered from the hands of those who didn’t care into the hands of hundreds who will love and hold and provide.” It is that prayer that is being answered. It is that miracle for which I am truly grateful.

Jerry Finch
Habitat for Horses, Inc.
PO Box 213
Hitchcock, TX 77563

20 replies »

  1. This breaks my heart, how can people be so cruel!

    Thank God for you and the many helpers – DOES show that there are
    NO “unwanted” animals.

    Bless you all


  2. I can only imagine the horrors you faced on your first day there. How wonderful that so many individuals have come to help. I am so grateful for all the work that you do.


  3. It absolutely amazes me the results of this rescue effort already. Awesome work for all who are on the ground and those working behind the scenes getting these animals to their new homes. Kudos to all.


  4. Happy tears flow…Thank You ALL – the volunteers, the vets, the farriers, the specialists, you with hearts bigger than the Montana sky – so very much for the selfless work you do. ~ Jan


  5. Absolutely wonderful! Please take pictures of those horses eating their first mouthfuls of sweet hay and clean water.

    I can not imagine letting hoofs grow so long that the camels, cows, horses and ponies can’t even walk. What agony for God’s creatures.


  6. Thank You Jerry and the all who have instilled in them to do this wonderful thing…. I have tears all over my face , thinking of all of you wonderful examples of loving caretakers……………………….To have this much love in your hearts is Spectacular, it shows that there is LOVE all over the Place………..for animals who look to us for there care !!!! The animals show to us always pure innocence we should all embrace it !!! We can give of our selfs in such a wonderful way !!! To show there is hope and love !!!!! That Greed never wins only love can Prevail here……………..


  7. It is so wonderful that folks came forward to help. Shows what can be done when the BLM isn’t involved. Animals get saved.
    Thank you.


  8. Fabulous ending to a horrific beginning!! Thank God for people like you Jerry and all the folks who came forward to help these guys.


  9. Tell Slaughter House Sue that these are 80 horse she can’t get her grubby hands on, along with all the other wonderful animls that had to endure this. We do care and we will continue to care. Thank God for all of the people that get into the trenches so to speak and really do something to help the animals instead of saying the best way is to kill them. Jerry you and all the others there are in my prayers.


  10. This level of commitment on the part of ALL you rescuers, across the USA, is just…. incredible. Miraculous. Heartlifting. Awe-inspiring. Just when I thought no one, BUT no one, could possibly cope with a rescue of this scale, all of you have stepped forward and are in the process of pulling it off. It is just unbelieveable that homes have already been found for most of the animals. Blessings to all of you!

    Jerry, if you are coordinating – my hat is off to you. Even if you’re not in charge, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there, and helping these poor, defenseless animals.


  11. Jerry, thank you for all you have given. I know there are so many, many more people to thank, too. And, I am very glad to hear there is progress.
    Your first post about the sanctuary was one of the hardest things I’ve ever read. I sat and cried for 20 minutes, realizing the immensity of it all. You confirmed, and put into words what I imagine others felt, too. As difficult as it must have been, and still is, for all of you, there are so many people who are thinking about you all everyday, the heartache you must feel. But I hope also knowing you are doing what some of us can not do.
    You all have borne witness to this tragedy. This can not, and should not be forgotten. To say there are lessens to be learned is an understatement. Thank you so much!


  12. Thank you for your vivid description of a tragic situation.

    This situation should have never happened. I know that the llama people I am association with have contributed thousands of dollars thinking to this organization thinking that we were supporting a valid rescue organization. What this shows is that we need to fully investigate any organization that we contribute our money to. We owe it to the animals.

    I had my suspicions of this organization many years ago. It was just to good to be true. These people never responded to our inquiries for information on their operation. This should have been a red flag. I can guarantee this will not happen again with my money.

    Let’s all look at this as a real learning experience. We must keep track of our “throw away animals”, they deserve nothing less.


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