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Frank Gray

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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Michelle Heitz of Shadarobah Horse Rescue vists with Bourbon, who is adjusting to a new temporary home in Columbia City.

Horse rescue needs rescuing of its own

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Shadarobah Horse Rescue horses Bela, left, and Bourbon were among 40 animals who were displaced when the rescue ran out of money and had to leave their location. Those horses are being fostered around the area.

Horse rescue operations tend to exist quietly, going about their business almost invisibly, taking in neglected animals at the behest of police and state veterinarians, rejuvenating them and the adopting them out.

Shadarobah Horse Rescue was like that. Over the course of about six years it took in more than 200 horses and found new homes for most of them.

You didn’t hear much about Shadarobah, though, until it went broke, got evicted from its home and volunteers had to frantically try to find temporary homes for its 40-odd animals and start looking for a new, permanent home.

Shadarobah, we’re told, has supporter with some deep pockets who is willing to buy some land for the operation, but Shadarobah, which is a non-profit organization, would have to raise enough money to pay back the supporter and feed and care for the horses it takes in.

That’s a tall order, but only sort of.

Indiana has about 90,000 people who own, service or volunteer with horses, and the state has 200,000 horses used mostly for recreation and as show horses, according to the American Horse Council.

That’s a lot of horse lovers.

How many horse lovers are in this corner of the state? It’s hard to say, but Allen County and its contiguous counties have about 600,000 people. How many are horse lovers? Three percent.

Even with such a small percentage, that means we have 18,000 horse lovers in these parts. A $10 donation to a horse rescue from every horse lover can generate a lot of money in a hurry, enough to bail out a horse rescue, find it a permanent home and help put an end to the repeating crisis atmosphere that horse rescues seem to inhabit.

Shadarobah, being a non-profit, is eligible for grants from different organizations, which is good, but to get grants you need good grant writers, the people who fill out the applications.

It is worthwhile to remember that horse rescues aren’t necessarily a bunch of people with soft spots for horses. When police find animals that are being neglected, what are they going to do with the animals? They turn to the horse rescues. When someone just can’t take care of an animal any more, who do they turn to? They rely on the horse rescues to solve the problem.

But it is an expensive proposition.

As Michelle Heitz, the president of Shadarobah noted, her organization hopes to find a new home with more land so the horses can be put out to pasture in the spring, summer and fall and graze. It would save thousands and thousands of dollars a year in hay costs, she said.

Part of the problem is that many people aren’t aware of local horse rescues. During Shadarobah’s eviction crisis last week, I got a call from a woman who regularly makes contributions to horse rescues out West, the ones who try to save the mustangs. She hadn’t heard of Shadarobah.

Ten bucks isn’t much money if you have a fondness for horses.

People can make donations on the group’s web page, shadarobah.org

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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