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Reading Room

A Note from the Secretaries Desk...
by Anne Ensminger, Secretary
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Anne Ensminger

   There will always be change.  Not original words of wisdom, but words that pop into my head very often concerning my work with GERL.  Our mission used to be pretty straight forward.  We were always very aware of our legal limitations (and still are) thus it was largely up to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Equine Division, to take care of case investigations and the impoundment of horses needing help.  GERL worked very hard to support that program financially (and still does) and by providing volunteers to help at the GDA Impound Barns.  Oh, from the beginning GERL maintained a Foster Care Program but we took in very few horses and they were mostly “nice” horses which were given to us by people who no longer had a need for them and, rather than go to the trouble to market them, gave them to us so that we could sell them for the profit and the donors could take a nice tax deduction.

   Today, things are not nearly that simple.  We no longer take “donated” horses (not the same as horses in need which are “signed over”).  Because of the changing climate in horse rescue which now uses up much more of our time, we have had to re-place the responsibility back onto the shoulders of horse owners for doing what it takes to find satisfactory homes for their horses which are no longer needed or wanted.

   Because of budget restraints, the GDA has periods when they are not permitted to pick up horses.  We respect their physical responsibility and wish the leaders of our country would follow their lead. Meanwhile, just because the GDA is in one of those periods when they are not picking up horses, does not mean that there are not horses in our state which desperately need help.

    Now that GERL has reached out to local law enforcement and animal control agencies in many Georgia counties, we now get calls from them almost daily with reports of starving horses which they have picked up or they are willing to pick up if we will provide help feeding them or take them into our Foster Care Program.  Each case is considered separately and decisions are made according to the circumstances.  Your Board of Directors has made some tough decisions and we often long for the “good old days” when there were more happy endings.

    What do I mean by that?  I mean that when we get a call about a horse that is very old, has a severe injury or chronic condition which limits their quality of life, or is dangerous to humans and other animals, as sad as it is, we must make the decision not to accept that horse into our program.  We are charged with an awesome responsibility involving how to use available GERL money wisely.  If we agree to spend unlimited amounts of money on a horse needing surgery for an injury, with no guarantee that the horse will ever regain usefulness or quality of life, then we have less available funds to help a potentially healthy horse which needs only to be returned to a normal nutritional state to have a chance for a bright future.  Of course, each case is individually considered and decided.  “Old” does not mean useless, “injured” does not mean that healing will not occur, and “dangerous” does not mean that gentle and effective training will not yield positive results.

   That last category, “dangerous” is the most difficult for us.  We do have GERL members and friends who will step up to work with our untrained horses but they are rare.  At a minimum cost of $500 per month, we send only the most promising animals to professional trainers.  Many times, thirty days is a mere “drop in the bucket” toward the training a horse requires to become trusting of humans and safe for us to offer for adoption.  Wild American Mustangs, with their inborn fear of humans, are always the most difficult animals with which we must deal.

   Another HUGE factor responsible for changes in the way we operate, involves the advent of widespread use of the internet.   We receive many calls about horses which are found on Craig’s List.  Truly there are some very thin and pitiful horses offered for sale or for free on Craig’s List.  We just keep our “fingers crossed” and monitor those situations.  It is our feeling that to become involved in those cases would absorb much of our time and energy which could be better spent without our “borrowing trouble”.  Also, many horses listed on Craig’s List are located outside of Georgia.   We have always limited our concerns to horses located within our state.  If we can just keep up with the need here at home, we will be accomplishing our mission.  Yes; those horses found on Craig’s List do need a new home because the owners are either irresponsible, or are unable to care for them.  The owners are, at least TRYING to place the horses.  It is the low down “scum” who ignore the fact that they are starving their horses and do nothing about it that we throw our energy towards.

   GERL is now on Facebook, thanks to Andee Rogers who manages our account.  It is a wonderful and easy way for people to stay in touch with us and has doubled the number of concerns brought to our attention.  Where will it all end?  I have no idea but I can live with the fact that GERL cannot save all of the horses if I know in my heart that we save MANY of them and that we make good decisions, if not always easy ones, about how to best help GDA with their growing Impound Program as well as for which horses GERL is able to most effectively make a difference in their lives.  I daily say to myself, “one day, one horse at a time” and recite the Serenity Prayer in my mind.




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Georgia Equine Rescue League, Ltd.
P.O. Box  328
Bethlehem, GA 30620

The Georgia Equine Rescue League, Ltd. is a non-profit organization, certified 501(c)3 with the State of Georgia.