So it had been brought to my attention, that there is a lot of debate going on right now in the horse rescue world. I’m personally an experienced horse owner, and I have taken interest in rescues before. However, there has been an increase in speculations about which horse rescue is doing what- or isn’t doing for that matter. Rescues such as Another Chance 4 Horses, South Jersey Thoroughbred Rescue, Turning For Home, and a variety of other horse rescues have been touched on within the past few months.
Another Chance 4 Horses has been in the limelight for those who taken interest in rescuing horses from kill buyers at auctions. In Theory, their Broker Owned rescue program is all fine and dandy. Horses in the kill pen at auctions get saved, a horse becomes someone’s new pet, and no one has to worry about little old Thunder going off to a Canadian slaughter plant. However, studied more closely, there are many flaws and cracks in their system, that peel away for those who are looking to see what is really going on. I followed along with their Facebook page for a little while. I noticed that several times, a horse or pony would have been posted, along with a note stating something like…”Hurry up! Let’s help this guy! He has until Friday night to be bailed out!” I then have seen the same horse stay posted for another week or so, even though AC4H claims the kill buyer’s shipment was supposed to leave after the first Friday night….
I’ve also heard from MANY people, that they have tried to contact Christy Sheidy for horses that some have donated to bail out, using this spiffy thing they are calling a ‘ChipIn‘. Correct me if I am wrong, but it people are donating to bail out a horse from the kill pen, so that they horse may go up for sponsorship to be adopted by someone else, shouldn’t there be attempts on behalf of AC4H to reach out to people inquiring about these horses? Why does it seem that so many get not even a note stating that the horse has been adopted, but all of these horses that have been ‘bailed out’, some with outrageous prices, seem to have no trail once they have gone to an ‘approved home’? Also, they’re claiming that the bail out price from the kill pen is generally an outrageous, monstrous amount. I’ve seen horses fifteen years plus with bad teeth and feet run through, and Christy Sheidy says that their bailout is $1,450. There isn’t enough meat on some of those horses to be worth to the kill buyers, anything near the amounts she is asking for to bail them out.
I found this site (which, I highly suggest looking at), that says, “AC4h reported an excess of $800k on its 990 form which is completely unrealistic as a “rescue” when dozens of legitimate rescues all over the country are struggling to support their programs in this miserable economy, and especially considering the severe hay shortage that is in effect because of the drought this summer.”
Something else interesting I found, was a statement from Barbara Luna, from Turning for home.
Here’s the quick story. Barbara Luna, is the director of an organization that is completely legitimate and is funded by Parx Racetrack. There has been a lot of fuss recently about a branch off rescue, and you can see much of the glamorous disagreement here, which is another blogger who decided to focus on TFH. Anyways, I’ll touch base in regards to that rescue later.
Now, with TFH and AC4H, it seems that TFH does supply SJTR with Thoroughbreds, along with another location NE Thoroughbred Retirement. Now, I have not heard a lot and NETR, and if anyone has any info on them, I would love to be informed. SJTR however, has been having problems with the public horse community for a number of years now. Seems this lady, Erin, runs this branch, and a few of the horses she has been supplied with, have been found running through horse auctions, on their way to a meat plant in Canada. Now, one of the horses most of the hubbub has surrounded, is a horse name My Boy Rocky. It appears this guy was found by AC4H, and somehow Barbara Luna got wind of it. After being ridiculed for allowing one of her foster farms to allow a horse who was supposed to be heading off to a safe home, Luna reported here what TFH is all about, and then again specifically about My Boy Rocky.
“Although my real name, phone number, email and contact information are printed clearly at the bottom of all of my COTH comments, not one of the critics who have been blasting mine and Erin Hurley’s programs have contacted me about this issue which has become so important to so many of you.
I make it a point not to waste my time responding to aliases, internet names, gossip and hearsay, but when someone accused me personally of dumping a horse, I decided finally that I would respond.
Turning For Home started its program at Philadelphia Park in 2008, so I am not sure what you were speaking of that happened in 2005.
Neither TFH nor I have ever been responsible for dumping a horse, and I’m not sure how one of you made that jump from asking about My Boy Rocky.
In April of this year, I received a call a woman representing Another Chance 4 Horses that one of our horses (meaning a horse that had been placed with TFH) was in the dealer lot up near New Holland. He was not in the kill pen.
I remembered the horse well–he had a serious knee fracture, his owner put him in the program, and when his turn came up off of our waiting list, we sent him to SJTR and Erin Hurley. She finished his long rehab, and found him a home as a light riding horse in December of 2008. I have no reason to believe that SJTR was irresponsible in any manner: TFH works with two non-profits , but mainly with SJTR. Adopters are assured that if a horse does not work out at any time, SJTR will take he/she back. A Right of First Refusal/No Auction Contract is signed by adopters. The adopter clearly was negligent in her own responsibilities towards Rocky.
I called Christy Shiedy (from AC4H) immediately after speaking to Erin, who was ready to go and pay for and pick up Rocky that day in April. Shiedy returned none of Erin’s many phone calls, but called me and told me that no one was allowed on the broker lot except for AC4H, and we could not have the horse back because she did not approve of Erin’s organization.
She also said that AC4H would take over possession of the horse the following Monday (although Erin was ready to take him back immediately), but it didn’t matter, as she already had an adopter for him. The horse, BTW, was in fine shape, had good weight on him, did not appear to have been physically neglected by the adopter.
The former trainer’s owner had also been contacted by one of the well-meaning volunteers from AC4H, then she and I both spoke at length about the safety measures we try to maintain with our program. She was apparently satisfied with our discussion, and recently, they have placed another horse with us.
Erin’s many phone calls to the adopter were never answered, a home number had been changed and a cell phone message was never returned.
Shiedy and I run our organizations very differently, but I have never doubted her care of the horses, or her intentions to help with the terrible plight that our many racehorses often face. Therefore, it was very upsetting to see that there were pleas being made on the internet for obtaining funding for getting this horse a new home as recently as last week, when I was told she had found a good home for him two months ago. It is worrisome that funds needed to be raised to help an adopter to be able to adopt the horse! (Especially, when the offer was always there for us to take him back to SJTR’s farm in Moorestown, NJ).
I hope this explains a bit about how our program works, and what the real deal was with Rocky. The other accusations about lame horses, and the “others” who have ended up at auction will have to be answered when the accusers can actually give me real names, real horses, and some more details.
We have over 410 horses that we have taken into the program, all from Philadelphia Park, since May of 2008. Some of you are blasting the huge number, but we are proud of what we have accomplished. Every organization has horses that can and will fall through the cracks. It is bound to happen when the numbers are huge, the economy is bad, and there are desperate people out there. It is never acceptable, however.
If anyone (with a real name) would like any more info about our program, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call me. I answer the phone at any time–we do not keep 9-5 hours, how can you in this business?”
Whoa. That’s fighting words from one chastised rescue director to another. Now, looking at the big picture here, I’m wondering how all these rescues are ending up entwined and at the same time being blown up by the horse world at the same time. What is going on here that is just getting through so many’s fingers? It’s late now, and I’m going to head off to sleep. More to come. My thoughts won’t rest on this one.