Equine Rescue

Tragedy Ends at Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue

Update from Jerry Finch ~ Founder/President of Habitat for Horses

This Saturday is the final auction of the Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. Everything – absolutely everything, is going.

A letter to the HfH Membership:

One who did not make it ~ photo by Jerry Finch

There are words to be said here, partly of a deep anger at the staff and management of MSLAR for all the death and destruction they caused, for the lies told to those who sent their loved animals to live their final days in peace, only to have their days end in the cold and misery from starvation while the caretakers stayed warm inside their luxury home with an indoor swimming pool.

I spent three weeks in that death pit, working along side some wonderful people, trying to salvage what we could of the 1,200 lives that were as close to death as life can come without crossing over. 130 of those were equine, 700+ were llamas, 35 were cattle. In addition, there were sheep, goats, exotic birds, pigs, camels, bison, chickens, geese… the list was almost endless. Those were the animals that were still alive when we took over. Many didn’t make it, far too many were too weak, too far gone to make it to another home. Horses had to be put down, llamas died by the dozens, donkeys couldn’t walk another step, cattle fell on the glazed ice and couldn’t stand.

In the cold grounds of the Montana mountains, the deep freeze makes digging a hole impossible. In addition, the Native American Tribes do not want animals euthanized with the “blue juice.” Humane euthanasia is carried out by gunshot. Done correctly, it’s quick. That gun went off far too many times, each sound bore a hole through those of us who pulled the trigger and those of us who watched. Each shot was another broken promise, a lie told to a former owner and even worse, a lie told to an animal who was totally and completely dependent on the caretaker for food, water and health care.

The emotional wreckage of those who came to save what they could truly hit home when one of them handed the gun to me one afternoon and, with tears streaming from swollen eyes, said, “You have to do this for awhile. If I do it again, I’m afraid I’ll use it on myself.”

This was once a dream sanctuary. It could have been perfect, it could have provided exactly what it meant to provide – the safety and protection of a forever home for those few animals that, for whatever reason, were picked by caring and loving humans to live in peace.

This is a link to the auction, with dozens of pictures of the equipment. The snow is still there, although most of it has melted down to a few inches. If you look at it, picture the hundreds of animals once crying out for help. It took the efforts of a lot of us. In the end, every blessed animal still living was put in a trailer and moved to another location with, God willing, caretakers who give a damn about things other than themselves.

Somewhere around 20 of the horses will be coming to the ranch later this month, the first load around the 17th. I’d love to have you be here, not to do a “lookie see” but to be part of a welcome, to help them understand that humans, for the most part, really are humane. Life has not been good to them for a long time.

Now God has seen fit to place their care in our hands. That’s a big responsibility, but together, we can and will do it.


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

31 replies »

  1. I know, there is nothing anyone could do or say that can change what happened…..but thank god that you and all the others that helped rescue these animals could be there and do what you did. You have a place of honor and respect in my book…..and a book a lot higher and mightier than mine…..you all have an extra star in your crown…


  2. I’ve said it before – there are angels on this Earth and Jerry Finch is an Archangel.

    To do the task at hand, face bone chilling cold for days on end to relieve the miseries of the helpless, find homes for the survivors and send the hopeless Home to God and do it all without perpetrating violence on those responsible takes a heart & soul of extreme rarity.

    I imagine knowing Mr. Finch personally must be a great comfort to those who do. But even out here on the periphery, some of us feel pretty damn blessed to know OF him.

    From my heart, Mr. Finch….


  3. Mr. Finch: God Bless You and all the others that worked to save as many as you could. I hope HELL comes to those that caused so much grief for the people who sent their animals to this place hoping their animals would live the rest of their lives healthy and happy and, of course, for those poor animals who didn’t make it. I wish Mr. Finch that I could save one of those horses that you will receive. I’m in California and I know you don’t adopt out of your state, but this horse would be a reminder to me that there’s never enough we can do to help these beautiful animals and save them from starvation, pain, suffering, and extinction. That picture above is enough to make me cry as I type this and realize this little angel depended on a human being to take care of him and his mommy, but ended up like we see him/her above. What a disgrace and a travesty. It only makes me want to fight on to save the wild horses and burros that the BLM have harmed, and all the horses that the killer buyers end up transporting across our borders. WE MUST WIN. WE MUST GET OUR WILD HORSES BACK ON THEIR ORIGINAL RANGES OR OTHER RANGES TO BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES AGAIN. AND, WE MUST PASS A LAW PROHIBITING ANY OF OUR HORSES CROSSING THE BORDERS TO CANADA AND MEXICO TO BE SLAUGHTERED. This would be such a great year if we can finally say “We Won for our beautiful horses.” Again, Mr. Finch, God Bless you and all the others that worked so tirelessly to save these animals and see they ended up in a better place.


  4. I can only add to what Golde and Lisa have already stated: there are lightworkers and angels that walk among us daily – and you are definitely one of them. I sat here bawling as I read what was going on in the beginning and through the salvage work. I cannot begin to imagine the horrors you faced, or how you kept your mind and heart on track with the job that had to be done. I know releasing them from the pain and suffering a gift to them and a mark on your heart from each release you witness or helped with. You have set the bar for the rest of us who rescue. I can only image the hue and cry of all those souls as they thunder, fly, and run to meet you the day YOU cross over the Rainbow Bridge – it will fill the sky with an incredible energy vibration that will be the biggest homecoming celebration to date. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do on this plane. Blessed Be.


  5. What in gods name were those JACKASS PEOPLE thinking, that no one would ever find out about this?
    I pray those people live the rest of their lives in hell!
    Thank you, Jerry & all that went to the rescue.


  6. My heart is heavy and the tears never dry, but as expressed by others, I thank God that there are people like Jerry Finch to counter the inhuman that befalls the poor unfortunate animals.


  7. http://www.manataka.org/page235.html

    A day will come when the animals, winged ones and those who swim will begin to disappear. The eagle, bear, wolf and buffalo will be scarce because people will become greedy and will not love each other. The sky will become black and the trees and plants will die. The beautiful rainbow will disappear because people will not remember to keep the Mother Earth sacred and will destroy its beauty.

    Children of the Rainbow Warriors will come before all destroyed and they will love the trees and the animals. They will love and respect each other and they will help people to live in peace with all creation. The rainbow in the sky will return as a sign of the Creator’s grace.


    • Thank you for sharng the words fo the rainbow bridge from the Native American’s perspective. I believe I could never read or hear enough about the wonders of the animals in heaven. I wish that all of them could live in peace and die a natural death, not by the hands of those who so cruelly misuse and abuse them.


    • Thank you for this Warriors of the Rainbow, this whole animal starvation and wars among the nations. And the tribes of the earth brings tears to my eyes and with a heavy heart my tiny part of my blood that is indian, shouts out who will take care of our peoples and all to creatures of the earth.


    • Thank You Louie for all that you do also !!!!!! All of us and all of the horses are proud you are here helping…………………. And RT and Terry,and of course Laura are all Angels with the highest credentials, also everyone here who works behind the scenes for all they do are also Angels…………………… God Bless each and everyone here…………………………….. And most of all God Bless all our Mustangs for which we all here adore and respect……………………..


  8. Since entering the horse advocacy a few years back I have seen the best of mankind and the worst of mankind. Most of them come as part and parcel of the same story. Such was the case here. The cruelest part that in the meeting place of these polar opposites always sits an abused horse along with other members of the animal kingdom. For the angels I bless you for the demons I leave you to look forward to whatever punishment must surely be meted out if there is any fairness to this Universe.


  9. Thank you Jerry for being there, I don’t think that I would have the same fortitude as you and your helpers. The gun WOULD have been used on the “caretakers” who most likely were just enriching themselves at the expense of these animals – they will answer to our Creator for their deeds – hope they realise this.


  10. God Bless you JT for all that you do. I can only shudder to think of the horrors of hearing that gun shot go off time and time again. May those who had suffered be lifted up not as deaths, but as examples of what man should not ever do. May those who by God’s grace survived be given a warm home, substantial food and nourishment which will give them nourishment to live a long healthy life. May those people who chose to purposely starve to death these animals unecessarily be brought to justice. Such a tragedy which could have been avoided. God Bless all those animals! Save our Mustangs!


  11. What punishment is being given to those scum who were responsible for such cruelty? Too bad a firing squad isn’t possible for them.


  12. I am just heartbroken, crying and literally had goosebumps while I read this. Thank you so much for saving the ones that you could, and I hope that somehow you can put away the pain from the mental pictures tht you must have from this horrific situation. I would like to know what happened to the people that did this.


  13. I live out here in the wild splendor that is Montana … the beauty and spirit of this land can literally take your breath away. Lately, however, between MSLAR, the Leachman case and several other animal cruelty cases that have hit the public view, it seems the compassion of the “human” spirit in this state is seriously lacking (to put it mildly). My concern is that Montana’s people are being observed and judged by a nation with a jaundiced eye. Working in the animal welfare industry as I do, I have to say that there are some truly incredible people in this state who give of themselves selflessly day after day for the plight of the critters… Jerry got to see and work with some of these folk. It is a bitter pill to swallow for those of us who fight relentlessly … a slippery slope where footholds are few and once ground is gained, it seems, we are sucker punched and slapped back by yet another case of cruelty against our 4 legged brethren. I know this type of struggle is not just a Montana issue but one that is fought on many battle grounds in many states day after day. It just seems we here in this state have been hard hit with multiple cruelty cases in frequent succession …. and our tears here for such abuses are many.

    Big thanks from me here in Montana to Jerry and all who worked tirelessly at MSLAR and found safe havens for those precious creatures; even if, for some, their short journey was to Rainbow Bridge. To me, what happened at MSLAR was the ultimate in betrayal … when you look up the definition of sanctuary in the dictionary, the first thing you see is “a sacred place” …. so not true for the animals of MSLAR. Many blessings to all for your hard work and sacrifice to make things right for these creatures.


    • Sandra, you’ll be pleased to know when I think of Montana I think of God’s country. Yes it has its denizen of Hell but they are everywhere. No blight on the good people there, just thankful these others have been found out and the truly good were those that worked so tirelessly. I truly hope there is some form of counseling to those who had to wade in and live in this mess. This is not something you should really just try to swallow down. I agree that when a sanctuary abuses its rescued souls that is the ultimate betrayal to those guaranteed shelter from the previous storms in their lives. This is also a betrayal to the human race itself who must acknowledge this blackness within us once more. We seem to come by this opportunity more and more often. The balance to that is us, those of us who give up so much to make the world a little bit better place. Those of us who support one another during this fight for a decent life for every being everywhere. I think there are more of us.


  14. Forgive me for asking, but were the animals on Reservation property? Why is it okay for Natives to kill themselves with alcohol, but the animals couldn’t be sent out quietly and painlessly? I’m not arguing that a downed animal can’t be killed effectively by a bullet to the brain. Was this some sort of ‘send off’ – an announcement to the gods? Guns are violent. Shooting these animals while they were already down was demoralizing to the humans trying to help them. A shot would have been so much less stressful.

    Thank you Jerry and all fellow HUMANE workers for helping these unfortunate souls. I wish I could be there to help welcome your new wards on the 17th, but I’m stuck in the East.


    • Puller, done correctly a bullet to the brain is instant death. The reasons that the locals were against lethal injection was because regardless what you do, the predators would get at the bodies and then die themselves. It was all meant to protect the environment and to protect the big cats, wolves, coyotes and bears. In the end, it was the right thing to do but I must say, I do not know if I could do it. I am thankful that I did not have to make that choice.


      • R,T, Just a thought and correct me if I’m wrong, if these animals were on native American’s land, why weren’t they patroled or come upon sooner? Where were the owners of this Sanctuary? This brings tears to my eyes for all those animals to starve a horrible death and the remaining few could live and the ones who had to be put down.


  15. Thank you Jerry, Habitat For Horses, and those volunteers who stepped up to do what you could do to help these innocent animals! Such a sad, tragic and preventable situation. Just reading about the rescue has brought tears to my eyes, so being there, and having to deal with it in person, so difficult!

    May we all take notice, learn an important lesson, and come to understand, “We can only take in those type and number of animals we can adequately care for, for the rest of their lives. We must also know we are still responsible for quality care, no matter what happens, be it illness, an emergency, and even our own death. It is the responsible caretaker’s role to have made all sorts of plans for all sorts of possiblities…!”


  16. I want to Thank Jerry and eveyone who was their to help these animals, being in the city I do not see such abuse on a scale such as that, to think that a human being ~ a human being ~ that could allow that to happen to any animal in their care is more than another human can even comprehend, it’s a sad day in this world when people such as them even walk this earth. Know that my heart breaks for everyone involved and all the animals. God and all the animal angles will always watch out over all of the helpers everywhere.


  17. It does seem as though Hell and Heaven meet, right here on Earth. It also seems that the most compassionate and sensitive souls are the ones who are willing to go into the depths of Hell in order to make things better. They put their own physical and emotional comfort to one side and just DO IT. Those are the Rainbow Warriors.


  18. Think of what would happen if it were not for people like Jerry, R.T., and so many, many others. Thanks to all who gave their time, money, and emotions. R.T., you’re such a voice for the animals. Bless You All.


  19. This is just a thought. Perhaps one of the reasons we see so many abuse cases happening in Montana is that land is cheaper–and with that the thought that life is cheap. It isn’t. We all know that.

    I don’t know what happened to these folks who did this? If they’re in jail or have charges being pressed against them. Sounds a lot like what happened to the little colt Windchill who was also left. Perhaps in his memory these people will be brought to justice.

    Not everyone that lives in Montana feels this way about animals. We have a couple of them at ABR. Respected folk that work day in and day out for their critters. Just thought you should know.


  20. OMG, Jerry thank you dear man for trying to do what you did for those that had enough life left in them. Montana is getting a lot of press lately about the horrors that do happen to our friends that just happen to walk on four legs instead of two and cannot speak for themselves. However, I have several good friends in Montana and know their heart is like mine and all here, sad to the point of breaking. I hope we will get word eventually on who these evil people were, where they are and how we can get justice served for those innocent souls who were placed in their care. Damn them to hell forever.


  21. ” Many didn’t make it, far too many were too weak, too far gone to make it to another home. Horses had to be put down, llamas died by the dozens, donkeys couldn’t walk another step, cattle fell on the glazed ice and couldn’t stand.”

    Just imagining This scene gives a clear idea of the strength you and your fellow Warriors had to make it thru three weeks of this. The cold, the ice, the death is just incredible. Thank you so much.

    What is happening to the awful people who had the care of these dear animals?


  22. What courage and strength of character to deal with such tragedy. To remain strong and do what was necessary in a dire time of need. What would the rest of us do without people like you? I’m crying for all the innocent deaths and wondering how those who could let this happen sleep at night. Thank you, Jerry and all.


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