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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.