On Saturday, sports columnist William Rhoden of the New York Times wrote about horse racing’s “dark side” and about “the terrible fate that awaited horses that did not make the grade or were simply used up and spent—sold at auction and shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.”
Rhoden included my thoughts in the piece, and I argued that the industry must do a better job of caring for its own—not leaving it up to groups like The HSUS and The Fund for Animals to rescue and shelter its discards and cast-offs. The people who are breeding and using horses need to be part of the solution, and not turn away either from their responsibility to provide lifetime care to horses or to avert their gaze from the terrible North American problem of horse slaughter.
Doris, a palomino rescued from neglect.
No species of animal has played a more important role in the development of our nation than the horse, yet we exhibit so little respect for the service it's provided to us. The HSUS is fighting for horses on many fronts, pushing for new policies to protect them and also sheltering them when and where we can.
Last week I told you about our new Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center in Texas, founded to rehabilitate abused, neglected, and abandoned equines and find them new homes. Our staff has set up a thorough adoption process to match each horse with the right family, and we’re happy to report that as a result of the grand opening, Doris, Glory, Blaze, and Braveheart all have adoptions pending. We helped rescue Doris and Glory from neglect in east Texas last December.
Many of you wrote in to the blog and on Facebook welcoming these new opportunities for rescued horses:
My family and I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of HSUS's Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center on May 14. It was clear from the moment that we stepped on the grounds that love and concern for horses was paramount in the planning of this center. We watched a demonstration of the natural horsemanship techniques employed to help these horses recover from their past abusive situations and move on to lives filled with love and compassion. Thank you to the on-site staff and volunteers who serve the resident equines. We appreciated seeing Wayne and other HSUS staff who were there to celebrate the opening. As Wayne's book The Bond points out, if each of us follows that innate call to be of service to other animals, miracles do happen—and kindness can be the rule, rather than the exception. —Candis Fugitt
Thank you for this beautiful day! What a wonderful facility for horses rescued from horrible circumstances. Thanks to the DDHRAC rescued horses will have a good life, rehabilitation, training, and hope for new families to love and care for them. —Suzanne Fourmigue
We had a great time. The Doris Day bunch got to show off a whole lot of success in their efforts to save and rehab horses to place back out in the world to contribute and improve the lives of others. We had over 1,200 folks join in the fun and festivities. Thanks to all! —Kevin Hill
Thank heaven for the Humane Society and the new Doris Day Horse Rescue Center. Love these precious animals dearly with their big innocent eyes and so soft noses. God bless your new rescue site and all the blessed horses that are fortunate enough to be protected in it. —Elaine Balgemann
You can learn more here about the other horses available for adoption at the center.
Soon, we expect to see legislation introduced to stop the live transport of American horses to slaughter. And we’ll also back the Whitfield-Udall legislation to bring some national rules and standards into the realm of horse racing. We need action on all fronts to turn around the problems in the racing industry. But it cannot just be driven by humane organizations. The horse industry needs to step up and handle its fair share of the problem.