Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sanctuary or Retirement?

During the last several months, Traveller’s Rest Equine Elders Sanctuary received increasingly frequent requests to take in horses that “need” a sanctuary setting due only to age, or minor unsoundness. These requests come from both private owners and horse welfarists who are having trouble finding permanent homes for such horses.

It seems like a good time, therefore, to re-run a short version of TREES acceptance policy. TREES almost always operates at maximum capacity. Maximum capacity is determined by a combination of financial status, farm size, and available manpower and may vary slightly depending on conditions. Further, because TREES takes in the horses most other places won’t accept – those of the elder set with one or more “special needs” - most often, the only way a space at the sanctuary becomes available is when euthanasia is judged, by caregivers and vets, to be the most humane option.

At that time, if the Sanctuary is able to take in another horse, priority is always given to those that are not receiving even basic care. In other words, the horses that are not receiving food or vet care necessary to maintain life, or those that are suffering pain due to untreated injury or ailment. These horses may be animals that have been abandoned, seized by Animal Control officials, or whose owners have encountered financial or physical hardships that make keeping a horse impossible. Intake functions as a sort of triage process to determine which horse is in the most immediate need.

If an owner or caregiver is ABLE to provide care for a horse, that horse is not deemed to be in immediate need. If a horse is in a well-run rescue barn, that horse is not deemed to be in immediate need. If a person “bailed” a horse and can care for him properly, but now wants to move him along just so he or she can “bail” another, that horse is not deemed to be in immediate need.

TREES is not a retirement farm. The Sanctuary was not built just to provide a leisure home for all horses of a certain age. It is intended as a place of safety for those (over a certain age) who may otherwise slip through the cracks. Please understand that these spaces are reserved for those horses who, literally, have no one else ABLE to care for them. If you’re ABLE….do it.