I’m not a huge fan of Facebook and probably never will be, but I’ll give credit where credit is due: FB helps bring to light some things that need to be exposed. Like the horse in this picture. No, he’s not some unfortunate creature that found himself in a feedlot for slaughter. This horse actually belonged to someone. Someone who chose to starve him.
Here, in her own words is the story of the woman who found him:
On Saturday August 18, 2012 I went to look at a “thin” Arabian gelding that needed to be rehomed due to the owners moving. I thought, sure, a little senior feed and some supplements and I might have a great horse for my kids. Scooby was described to me to be a late teens Arabian gelding that was “a little thin and blind in one eye.”
When I arrived at the place about an hour from home I had to sit in my truck for a minute to compose myself. There, in an approximately 8×10 pen full of boulders stood this emaciated gelding. I was not sure how he was still standing. I got out and went and put my halter on him, praying he could get in the trailer. I tried to be nice to the woman. The horse fell getting into the trailer and with all the spirit and pride of the Arabian breed, he pulled himself back up and waited for me to close the door. I got in my truck, thanked the woman for the horse and drove out the driveway. I stopped and broke down crying. Neverr in my entire life rescuing horses had I seen anything like this in person. Sure we see it on TV, but never in person. I called Angie, the Guardian Angels rescue founder and cried on the phone to her. After calming down I asked, “What do I do?” She has a friend who is an Equine Nutritionalist and she set me up with a list of items as long as my arm. I got back on the road and he went down two more times in the trailer… the guy just wouldn’t stay down. I got him home and was greeted by my mother and some friends who came out just in case I needed help.”
I read that, then forced myself to look at the rest of the pictures of Scooby. All I could think was fortunately, this woman (with more compassion than money) was unable to turn around and drive away. Instead, she recognized desperation when she saw it and loaded the horse onto her trailer and took the poor beast home. In her mind, there was absolutely no other choice. And no, she hadn’t worked out the logistics of nursing him back to health. Her only thought was to get that horse the hell out of there … and not a minute too soon!
I’ve been in this woman’s shoes. For me, I reached the “point of no return” when my husband’s secretary told me about a young Border Collie who was being abused. The pup was forced to live in a plastic cat carrier on the breezeway of her husband’s ex-wife’s house. The woman’s “new” husband kept a baseball bat near the carrier to beat the carrier (or he would kick it) when the pup whimpered or barked, which he did often in his cramped, starved and confused state. The woman refused to rehome the young dog because he was (as she put it), “worth a lot of money.” Apparently the dog was a purebred, but his high octane energy and puppy needs were far too much for her and she didn’t want him. Neither did her son or husband. So because they viewed him as an inconvenient investment, they kept him locked up and proceeded to abuse, starve and neglect him.
When I heard about this dog I told my husband’s secretary to offer to buy the dog for me. She was indirectly related to this woman through marriage and she was able to personally assure her that the interested party would not report them to the authorities for animal abuse. (I kept my word, but it grieved me deeply.) So essentially, I paid the dog abusers so I could get the dog out of their clutches. But I would have done just about anything (short of stealing the pup) if I had to. Naturally, I didn’t think down the line about what I was going to do with an emaciated, sick and almost deformed young dog, but I didn’t care. I knew he’d be safe with me. And he was, but as I soon learned that was just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ll never regret rescuing Duncan, but I knew I was in over my head when I saw his muscles were too atrophied for him to stand up. He was afraid to eat anything, barfed when he did and pooped black tar. Not to mention that the poor dog had no social skills or potty training and was terrified of his own shadow. (He was just under a year old.) This all happened right around the time when the internet was starting up and and as luck had it, I had a computer. I managed to do a search and found a BC rescue person not too far from my home. Crossing my fingers, I called her and told her Duncan’s story. Clearly, it wasn’t shocking to her and she started to tell me what I’d need to do to if I wanted to try to nurse him back to health. Somewhere in the midst of taking notes and asking questions she must have heard the panic in my voice. Quietly, she offered, “Of course, you could always bring him here and leave him with me …” There was a long pause as I digested her offer. “Really? Could you take him?” I asked. “Yes” she said. “I’m full right now, but I’m placing a dog this weekend and then I’ll have an opening, if only just briefly.” She paused for effect before going on. “If you don’t think you can do this … and I’m not judging you. I know it’s hard work. But I’d suggest you part with him now because if you wait, I won’t have an opening come Monday. There’s too many dogs in need and too few fosters to take them.”
In the end I turned Duncan over to the woman who knew so much more than me about saving abused and starved dogs. I was sad that I couldn’t be the one to save him, but grateful that she knew what to do for him. When she laid eyes on Duncan her face told me just how bad he really was. She said she’d seen worse, but not much. She asked if I might be interested in adopting him if they could get his health back up to snuff, but I had two young herding dogs of my own at the time and I didn’t think I was up for the challenge of another. She nodded with understanding and reassured me that if he survived her group would find Duncan a great home. I had no doubt they would and I drove off knowing I’d never see Duncan again.
About a year later I received an email from someone I didn’t know. In the subject line was written simply: Duncan’s Mom. I quickly opened the Email and read it with tears in my eyes. The letter was from a woman who lived in Vermont. She was the wife of a veterinarian who’d adopted a young rescued BC from a group in my area. The dog’s name was Duncan and he was about two years old now. They’d been told a woman had paid to get Duncan out of a bad situation and she was was wondering if that person was me? (Yes) The letter went on to tell me about Duncan’s progress and his current life. He lived on a large sheep farm in VT and went to work every day with his veterinarian father. The woman and her husband both adored him, and oh by the way, he was an amazingly talented sheep dog. I don’t know why, but my heart nearly burst with pride and joy. I’d only had Duncan a few days, but I was an important link in the chain that gave him a second chance at a better life. I’ve never forgotten how good that felt.
When I look at Scooby’s picture I’m immediately both sad and angry at the same time, but unfortunately emotions don’t put weight on a sick horse or meet any of their other needs. So rather than give lip service to the humble woman who refused to walk away and forget about him, I’m trying to help Scooby. Translation: I’m writing a few checks.
If you can look at that picture, think it’s horrible and then just get on with your day that’s fine. But if you can’t, then why not pop on over to Scooby’s FB page and see if maybe there’s anything you can do to help. As Duncan’s mom once told me, sometimes a simple random act of kindness can make all the difference between life and death.
PS. For my firefighter friends: Her husband is one of your own …..