GIMME SHELTER: Models for Horse Rescue
Here at Double D Trailers, we have the privilege of hearing many truly touching horse stories. One of those stories came from Kate Sullivan of the Sonoma Action for Equine Rescues (SAFER). We featured her story in a full article about the 2015 Wildfires in Lake County, California.
Here, in Kate's own words, she shares more about how SAFER operates...
"There are many models of what is termed “horse rescue.” Sometimes it’s an effort to support a herd of equines that is being given sanctuary after misfortune and displacement. There are also programs that focus on horses already sitting on feedlots waiting for slaughter trucks to come and get them. This can create a sense of emergency that many folks respond to by making an effort to keep them off that truck. Many of these are working with the kill buyers however and the money goes to acquiring more horses for slaughter. There are groups that focus on working with the Animal Control Officers of their local county to help house and feed horses impounded for neglect and support prosecution of cruelty. And so very many self-funded efforts to rescue and rehome a few at a time. Some groups have the 501(c)3 non-profit status that allows contributions to be tax deductible. Others go it alone without this support.
"All these efforts have one value in common: that it matters to the heart and soul of our culture that these wonderful creatures we have bred to be in partnership with us be given responsible and respectful treatment. Sometimes that is vet care, or a new home. Sometimes it is a bullet from a knowledgeable marksman. Most would agree that the latter is the very least they should expect from the human caretaker; that it is part of the sacred contract we humans have with Equus; without whom civilization as we know it would never have happened.
"SAFER (Sonoma Action For Equine Rescue) was formed - with no material resources at the start– to serve folks that were losing theirs. It was launched with no money, no land, no truck or trailer: only some ideas of what people needed to solve immediate problems. As founder, I had no intention of moving beyond the borders of our local county but Jim Mayfield – owner of Rainbow Ag Feed stores – changed all that. He heard about our programs and thought that Lake County and Mendocino should have those programs too. When I protested he suggested that what was needed was “a steering committee” to handle things in other counties. And that is what has happened.
"Here are the SAFER public service programs:
1. A SAFER Donate A Bale program in Feed stores takes donations at the point of purchase from those who can spare some cash and want to help their neighbors. SAFER then makes a retail purchase with those donations that supports the Public Hay Assistance Program. Instead of just collecting change in a jar that gets passed along to the rescue: this helps the feed store as well – who often respond by giving SAFER a discount. This program also feeds SAFER horses who end up in our foster care programs. The Public Hay Assistance Program is for short term (under 3 months) help in feeding horses so that they can remain in their homes until the owners find other means to support them. Applications can be found on the main page of the website: www.saferhorse.com. It’s far easier to keep horses in the homes where they are wanted than to try and find other homes. Ethical Horse Rescues that offer this on their website should ALWAYS have the funds to fulfill these obligations if they are so advertised.
2. A Free Media Listing for those who need to rehome their horses quickly. Our website, FaceBook pages and Groups, and Constant Contact ENewsletter has been going for 8 years now and gets a lot of attention. Owners email their pictures and an extensive description of their animal and each one gets its own page for potential owners to peruse. We also encourage people who want to rescue on their own to use this as their own resource. See the website for more information under “Adoptions.” It is absolutely free, but is only for horses that the owner will part with for under $800.
3. SAFER Foster Program – Since SAFER has no facilities, we are dependent on folks that volunteer to house and care for horses who are waiting for new homes. SAFER pays for feed, farrier and vet. For more information on what it takes to be a foster see “Partner Facilities” on the SAFER website.
4. Auction Rescues - If SAFER has openings in its foster care program, we go to the Petaluma Auction to save horses in danger of going to slaughter. As many of you know there is a very active network of illegal slaughter transport that prey on desperate private owners; horses who will be “given a good home” are often taken to auction or direct to slaughter in Mexico."
Sonoma Action for Equine Rescue (SAFER)
Location: Sebastopol, CA
Donate: 9825 Mill Station Rd, Sebastopol, CA 95472