Ensuring Best Practices is the Key to Horse Rescue Success
Over the past several days a dreadful news story has broken about one of the largest Equine Rescues in the world, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, willfully and without explanation allowing the care of some 1,000+ horses deteriorate to the point of starvation and death. Well funded but grossly mismanaged the organization unraveled with the horses, who were promised a comfortable and painless retirement, getting the bitter short end of the stick.
Click (HERE) to read the story and acquire the background.
Of course this sort of disaster has the likes of Dave Duquette, self proclaimed co-leader of a sub culture horse eating club, jumping up and down ranting that bloody horse slaughter plants would have prevented this.
But unlike Duquette and his minions the sane answer that would aide in the prevention of further sanctuary failure is to ensure that sanctuary/rescues meet a high standard of best practices in not only caring for their equine charges but also on how they run their business. To provide long term care for any animal takes a strategic and aggressive business plan to ensure that funds will be available for the animals, long term.
For many years Jerry Finch, founder and president of Habitat for Horses, and I have sat and mulled the issue of certification/standardization of equine rescues in an effort to ensure that abused and neglected horses would not face a repeat of their pain through the failure of a half baked, backyard horse rescue operation, and there are a wagon load of them out there.
Finally, Jerry found an avenue and agency to achieve this goal through the auspices of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Proudly, Habitat for Horses is the first Equine Sanctuary to be accredited by GFAS and has been the model for additional certifications as the program has moved forward. GFAS assures that it’s members are above reproach and offers training and assistance for sanctuaries in an effort to ensure that a host of species represented are cared for at the very highest possible standard.
Below is an article from the NYT stipulating that if the TRF had made an early move to become accredited by GFAS the odds of this disaster occurring would likely have been greatly diminished. It’s of importance to note that the United States first equine advocacy group, the ASPCA, endorses this concept and points other benevolent organizations to seek this accreditation.
This is an answer and a way forward to help in assuring the future success of sanctuaries/rescues and in so doing ensuring a rightful retirement for our equine companions who have given us their all. ~ R.T.
Reprinted from the New York Times
The New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau will review complaints about fiscal irresponsibility and improper care given to former racehorses that have been leveled against the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
The foundation, located in Saratoga Springs, is one of the largest private organizations in the world dedicated to caring for former racehorses. It has been so slow or delinquent in paying for the upkeep of the more than 1,000 horses under its care that scores have wound up starved and neglected, some fatally, according to interviews and inspection reports obtained by The New York Times.
Despite receiving millions in donations, the foundation has been operating at a deficit for the past two years, according to its financial documents, and as a result has not reliably been paying the 25 farms it contracts with to oversee the retired horses. At the 4-H Farm in Oklahoma, inspectors last month could find only 47 of the 63 retired horses that had been assigned to it. Many of those were malnourished. Inspectors concluded that the rest had died, probably of neglect.
Last week, at a Kentucky farm that is supposed to receive money from the foundation, 34 horses were found in “poor” or “emaciated” condition, inspectors found. One horse had to be euthanized because of malnutrition.
“While we cannot comment on potential or ongoing matters before our office, we take these complaints seriously and will review them,” said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
The foundation also was told last week that it was losing its funding from the A.S.P.C.A. Last year, the A.S.P.C.A. gave the foundation $175,000 from its Million Dollar Rescuing Racers Initiative. Jacque Schultz, senior director of the A.S.P.C.A. Equine Fund, said the foundation was told that to be considered for another $175,000, it had to obtain accreditation from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. “They didn’t make satisfactory movement on that front,” Schultz said.
In a statement, Schultz said, “The A.S.P.C.A. Equine Fund grants program seeks to award equine organizations who strive to achieve best practices, including exceptional equine care and innovative and robust fund-raising practices.”